Early every morning, while dew still clings to the grass, a group of campers on the Garden Harvest farm chore help the farmers to gather all of the produce that is needed for the day. They pull beets from the soil, cut lettuce, and pluck green beans that hide among leaves and vines. Everything gets washed at a station by the greenhouses, and then campers bring the brightly colored goods back to the kitchen, just in time for breakfast.
Garden Harvest is a busy chore–the kitchens rely on the garden for just about all of their vegetables, so there’s always plenty to do. Every day, about 250 campers and staff members sit down to eat in the camp dining rooms, ready to refuel after spending hours swimming, hiking, boating, or running around the Upper Field. The demand for fresh food is considerable, but our farm and garden is well equipped to provide.
The key to feeding so many hungry people for an entire summer? Planting in successions. The farmers keep quick-growing vegetables like lettuce, kale, and kohlrabi in all different stages of growth on the farm. While the more mature plants grow to their fullest extent in the fields, the greenhouse acts as a nursery, housing seedlings that will be planted once the others have been harvested. The farmers use a crop plan based on past years and new data to keep the supply of fresh, local vegetables in supply all summer long.
Produce that is slower growing cannot be planted in successions, but there is still plenty to go around. Now that it is August, tomatoes, herbs, cucumbers, green and purple beans, beets, and radishes are all being harvested regularly. The snow and snap peas have all been picked, and the garlic bulbs are out of the ground.
In addition to seeing this food in the dining room every day, the campers on Garden Harvest get a special treat at the end of the week–Harvest Lunch. Using almost entirely food that they have picked themselves, the campers make and eat lunch outside, under the cabana. This summer they have made sushi, stir fry, homemade pasta, tacos, and thai red curry, each weekly group of campers choosing the menu that is most exciting to them.
In a world where individuals are increasingly disconnected from the land and farmers that grow their food, the power of this process cannot be underestimated. To be able to get involved in every step of a plant’s life, from seedling to salad, provides campers with a comprehensive understanding of small-scale food systems, giving children a deep connection to the food they eat.