As I watched the slurry of chicken, pig, and sheep poop run down the driveway while I sprayed off thirty pairs of child-sized boots with the hose, I thought to myself, “this is one of those tasks listed under ‘other tasks as assigned’ on my job description.”
Although sometimes the job of Environmental Educator comes with some not-so-splendid tasks, the rewards by far outweigh the undesirables.
The mission of farm camp is to expose campers to where their food comes from; farm to fork. Campers spend each morning at Hale Farm & Village completing farm chores. These include feeding cows and sheep, grinding corn to feed chickens, watering gardens, and even shoveling oxen pies! The kids have a blast getting to work with all the different plants and animals.
Afternoon activities vary from day to day. On Monday, we made scissor salsa with fresh tomato, garlic, and scallions. We also played vegetable twister and made posters about the origin of our food. After lunch, we toured Brunty Farm and experienced a plethora of farm tasks. Campers helped plant seeds in the green house, water peppers in the solar mulch, feed baby turkeys and chickens, move chicken tractors, and feed pigs. We send a BIG thank you to Farmer Mel and Farmer Jeff for showing us the sustainable farming methods.
Tuesday afternoon we played a game called “citizen shopper showdown.” Campers had to earn food tokens for their plate by answering questions about healthy eating habits. Each team had a tray with a plate and cup to fill with food tokens. Everyone had to run around to the different question stations and earn their tokens without getting tagged by the junk food jerk. If tagged by the junk food jerk, the team was frozen until they completed a physical task for the gym teacher. I can assure you a good time was had by all.
Yesterday, after lunch, we all returned to the EEC for a series of stations. At station one, campers made a lasagna garden to take home. We each layered rocks, straw, compost, potting soil, organic fertilizer, and green leaf matter into a milk jug. The different layers provide a complete array of nutrients for the little radish seeds we planted in the top.
At station two, campers got to do a blindfolded taste test! Campers tried to decipher the differences between local foods and conventional foods. Even though few campers liked the taste of radishes, most everyone could still tell the local ones had more flavor.
At station three, campers plotted out a square foot garden. We learned about companion planting (plants that help each other grow) and learned that plants need a certain amount of space away from their neighbors. Each camper got to plan out two square feet of herbs and vegetables, and then actually planted their plan in the hoop house.
Today, campers had a busy morning with farm chores and farmers market scenarios. Everyone has a relaxing and well deserved break this afternoon for swim day at Monroe Falls.
Tomorrow, students get to help sell produce at the farmers market in Highland Square in Akron. Stop by if you need some fresh produce!!
It truly is amazing how disconnected we all are from farming and the origin of food. We’ve had a blast learning about it this week at camp, even if it means hosing off some pig poop from the boots at the end of the day.