North Central SARE From the Field Profile
Middle School Students Learn Farm-to-Table Agriculture First Hand
Organic Farm to Summer Camp Table
In December 2011, EarthDance proposed to host two week-long sessions of Camp EarthDance, a farm-to-table summer camp for middle-schoolers. Plans for the camp were fine-tuned in spring 2012, and publicity materials were developed.
Although there were not enough registrants to conduct the first camp, the second camp included 16 students. During the camp, at Mueller Farm, participants took field walks to observe crops and wildlife. Other activities included a scavenger hunt to find different aspects of the farm’s ecosystem; a few rounds of the game “nutrient cycle freeze-tag” to better understand the process by which decomposer organisms help build healthy soil; and role-playing a mock farmers’ market. EarthDance staff also taught campers how to use hula hoes to weed a bed of beans, carefully transplant scallion seedlings from trays to the soil, and how to harvest delicate Taverna green beans for market.
When campers returned to Ferguson Middle School, a teacher and two interns oversaw lunch preparations. “As a former high school teacher, I saw plenty of kids who perceived lunch as a bag of hot Cheetos and a cola,” camp director Rachel Levi said. “We wanted to instill in youth that food grown from the ground is something they want to eat.”
Highlights of the week’s meals included couscous cakes, fruit salad with camper-made poppy-seed dressing, and personal pizzas with farm-fresh toppings. After meal time a dietitian led several lessons on healthy choices. Campers discussed nutrition labels and “traffic light eating,” a reference to “red-light foods,” like French fries and sodas, that should cause people to stop and think and perhaps choose a smaller portion or make a healthier choice from “green-light foods” like colorful vegetables and fruits.
Each day ended with a physical activity. Swimming, yoga, and hula-hoop fitness gave campers the opportunity to relax and have fun.
View Rachel Levi's presentation on this project, from the 2012 Farmers Forum, through NCR-SARE's YouTube playlist. Visit www.youtube.com/NCRSAREvideo for this and other videos.
Want more information? See the related SARE grant(s) YENC12-053, Organic Farm to Summer Camp Table.
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These products were developed with support from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA). Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed within these products do not necessarily reflect the view of the SARE program or the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.