By Lisa Marie Griffin

As The Daniel Plan reacquaints you to food that’s not packaged or processed, there is a chance to burn spare calories, blissfully, in an authentic working farm in south Orange County.

As avid gardener Pastor Rick would agree, gardening is great exercise to add to your weekly routine. Light gardening provides flexibility, strength and endurance. Dig or rake. Gather or prune. Thirty minutes of sweat producing gardening, perhaps digging with a shovel, will burn approximately 280 calories while 30 minutes of gardening will melt away nearly 170 calories (based on a 150-pound woman). And maybe push a wheelbarrow in the picturesque hidden gem called Rancho Capistrano.

The Saddleback Organic Farm is nestled in grassy hillsides at the Saddleback Church – Rancho Capistrano campus amid a landscape that reflects old California. Towering palms, a shimmering lake, weeping willows and grand eucalyptus trees surround mission style architecture, and next to Saddleback Organic Farm, which broke ground in December 2010.

Gene Archibek, ministry leader for Saddleback Organic Farm says volunteers are welcome, especially when the harvest begins. Farming at The Ranch is a family-friendly opportunity—so don’t forget your camera! Pick produce during the week, or spend a Saturday morning lending a hand.

Currently the farm is growing Basil, Thyme, Dill Tarragon, Parsley and Cilantro for herbs. Carrots, soybeans, zucchini, eggplant, melons, and cantaloupe, beans, tomatoes and corn. There’s also a thriving older orange grove adjacent to the garden.

There are great grassy knolls on the property, which is perfect for the peppy, who may choose to sprint up the hills exhausting themselves before their fruitage duties. Hill sprints burn more calories than a flat ground run. Short explosive sprints up the great grassy knolls will activate more muscle fibers, powerfully. Sprint then husk: lower body, then upper body. Even if you choose to walk peacefully up the hills your heart rate will increase.

All of the produce will be distributed through the Saddleback Food Pantry. So the 3000-3500 families that are fed through the Food Pantry will receive the benefits of the farm.

There are a variety of duties, which are forever wanted such as weeding, watering, planting, maintenance and harvesting. Get those gardening gloves, and sun hat, because–get ready–Gene says, “We will also be preparing a winter plot which will require a lot of work.”

With a new plot and the first harvest buzz there’s no better time to jump on the wagon. How often can you say, you were harvesting for the hungry, picking fresh produce from the vine in an almost fairy tale setting?

See you at The Ranch!

Contact: Gene Archibek, (949) 678-3050 or [email protected]