At Treetops the farm-to-table cycle begins right here on our own land.
Each day, campers collect close to one hundred eggs and help to harvest vegetables, greens, herbs, berries, and wild edibles grown on our property for our meals. Through planting, cultivating, weeding, harvesting, cooking, and composting. Treetops campers help provide the food that sustains our community.
Prior to planting, campers learn to prep the garden beds by weeding, leveling, and amending the soil with compost. Then they take part in a variety of planting activities: transplanting seedlings from the greenhouse to the garden, seeding radishes into a small raised bed in the Children’s Garden, or planting a mix of vegetables for our local food pantry.
After much time spent planting, weeding, and watering, both campers and counselors are more than happy to help with harvesting. Each morning, a small group of campers meets in the garden to harvest a variety of vegetables for the day’s meals. When eating pesto pasta at dinner, campers make connections to the basil harvested that morning.
Children continue the cycle of farm-to-table in our many cooking areas, including the Camper Kitchen and the Teaching and Learning Kitchen. Campers create jams, salsa, pesto, cheese, butter, dressings, and much more—all using ingredients picked fresh from the gardens. Additional cooking opportunities come from the outdoor grill, wood-fired ovens, and over campfires. From a stir fry of carrots, onions, peppers, and kale to a strawberry rhubarb cobbler or a pizza topped with fresh tomato sauce, campers enjoy the fruits of their labor. Campers and counselors on each week’s harvest work job, culminate their time together by working with the farm staff to plan, prepare, and enjoy Gardener’s lunch, a meal inspired by our garden’s bounty.
At Treetops, nothing is wasted. At each meal campers separate their food scraps into pig food and compost buckets. As part of our afternoon work jobs, a group of campers and adults collects the food waste and processes them in our compost system. Children help to spread the finished compost out in the garden, helping them to understand the story of their food as an interconnected cycle.
Beyond the Table
Integrating farm activities into other program areas, notably our crafts, is a longstanding Treetops tradition. For instance, campers might:
- make lip balm and salves with herbs and flowers from the garden
- make flags of colorful vegetables felted from our own wool to hang in the Children’s Garden
- pick flowers for the dining room tables
- decorate aprons with vegetable stencils
- make ceramic napkin rings adorned with barnyard animals.