We caught up with Farmer Amanda Thibodeau and Food Love Project Intern Brianna Abundiz on the last day of summer camp to find out about how they were changing kids’ relationships with food having spent a week on the farm.
AT: We made scarecrows, we made worm bins, we made seed balls and prayer flags. We did our “play” farmers’ market (not “mock” – we don’t mock the farmers’ market; the kids felt strongly about that). We are flexible enough that the kids are able to return to their favorite activities throughout the day and have conversations about things that they like.
We learned about medicinal herbs – we went on an herb walk and learned what various herbs can do for our health. And the kids remember! If someone gets a splinter or a boo boo, we go and find the plant that will help make it feel better. We did a sketch project where the kids sketched something on the farm, starting the first day with an outline, then adding color the next day, then adding a frame made out of beans.
We tasted a lot of food – we did a stone fruit tasting and compared peaches from Pearson farm. We did a honey tasting. We shelled corn and made popcorn. Today the camp culminates in a taco feast. We grind our own corn, and make our own tortillas.
SH: What was different this year?
AT: The shade structure has changed everything – we used to chase the shade and now we have this large swath of shade and it feels like there is a lot more space. It feels like a real outdoor classroom. We can have kids doing multiple activities in different shady places – there is plenty of room.
SH: What did the kids get most excited about?
AT: The play market continues to be the most popular activity – adults came and actually shopped this year, which was very exciting. The kids get excited about different things. We had a camper who named himself “Hay” – 10 or 11 years old. He asked where the meat for the tacos was, and was uncertain about vegetarian tacos. After he tried the bean tacos, he decided: “These are the best tacos I’ve ever had!” He kept coming back for more and more.
We have a camper who named herself “Tulsi” – we’ve been watching the bees in the flowering Tulsi and practicing how to pick Tulsi (the herb) while respecting the bees. She said: “I just want to live here.”
We had a kid who was really into making bouquets – he made a bouquet every day. He would bring them to people at his mom’s work. We do awards at the end of camp (best helper, etc.) and I said “best bouquet maker” and he stood right up: “That’s me.” It’s so sweet to see a 9-year-old boy get really into making flower bouquets and feeling good about that – nobody is going to judge him for making a bouquet or wearing a flower crown.
How are you changing kids’ lives with this camp?
BA: When my kids did the honey tasting, we decided that we HAVE to keep bees. They keep asking “When are we going to move so that we can keep bees?” One kid had a dream about tasting the honey comb.
AT: The kids feel comfortable on the farm and they feel ownership of the farm.
BA: And they feel ownership of us. One boy told me: “You said we were going to make tortillas – when?” They hold us accountable and this builds everyone’s self-esteem.
Thank you, Telestream, for supporting farm to school education and helping kids to have a great week on the farm with your generous donation for camp scholarships!