Good Life Organics Brings Farm to School in Pacific Palisades

By Laura Abruscato 
Contributing Writer

For families at Palisades Elementary, Marquez Elementary and Kehillat Israel Preschool, local organic produce is as easy as picking up their child on Wednesdays. That’s when Good Life Organics delivers boxes of fruits and vegetables to take home in a farm-to-school program, where a portion of the proceeds help support the school.

Pacific Palisades residents who no longer have children in school can still receive boxes through home delivery. Visit Goodlifeorganics.org for more information.

Good Life Organics, owned by husband-and-wife Samantha and Mark Sirota, was launched in 2010 with 15 families at Little Village Nursery School in West Los Angeles, where Samantha’s father is a longtime teacher.

Samantha Sirota of Good Life Organics. Photo: Lesly Hall Photography

Samantha Sirota of Good Life Organics. Photo: Lesly Hall Photography

“People liked it and told their friends at other schools,” Samantha said. The company now brings fresh fruits and vegetables weekly or biweekly to about 50 school sites and has 950 clients, including home delivery.

The fruit and vegetable variety changes each week depending on what’s seasonal and abundant. The spring boxes frequently include avocados, berries and tangerines, with stone fruits coming in early May. In addition, Samantha provides her customers’ favorites, such as carrots and snap peas, while avoiding bitter-tasting greens and other foods that children don’t favor.

The company also sends out weekly e-mails with recipes and suggestions for how to use what’s in the box.

“I love getting fresh organic fruits and vegetables that I don’t have to think about buying and adding to the regular shopping list,” said Lili Moshfegh, a Marquez mom of two, who has been getting the boxes for four years. “I also like that you can customize them.”

Sometimes produce unfamiliar to customers is included in the delivery. Samantha reports that while some people may not eat it, to others it’s their favorite part of receiving the box.

“They like giving the recipe a try,” she said.

Samantha and Mark buy their produce from a variety of Southern California farmers, including Ha’s Apple Farm, Sycamore Hill Ranch and Tutti Frutti Farm. The farmers deliver produce to their San Fernando Valley location, where Mark and employees pack boxes and load the trucks, while Samantha oversees the office, writes the recipes and newsletter and helps with deliveries.

The couple, who married in 2014, met after high school, and share a love of art, music and food.

Customers tell Samantha that the children love to open the box and put the fruit and vegetables away. She recommends getting children involved in cooking. “You can cook the vegetables until they are soft and have the children cut them with a plastic knife.” “The kids have begun to understand the meaning of organic, local, seasonal and sustainable through active participation,” said Marquez mom Rachel Orosco.

While at Taft High School, Samantha volunteered at the Encino farmers market with Gene Etheridge of Etheridge Organics, a fruit farmer and former high school principal. “I fell in love with the fruit and the sense of community,” she said.

She continued her involvement with the farmers market while studying at Cal State Northridge, and, after graduating with a degree in art, worked as a graphic designer for a green construction company, but felt she wanted to make a bigger environmental impact.

“With food you can make a green choice with every meal,” said Samantha, who also speaks to classes about local food and healthy eating as well as providing snacks for preschools and after-school programs.

Good Life, which offers various sizes of all fruit or fruit and vegetable boxes, has donated more than $85,000 back to the schools they work with, and the schools mostly use the funds for school gardens or beautification projects.

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