By week four at Treetops, every child has had a chance to experience our farm-to-fork way of life. Many campers have harvested herbs, vegetables, or edible flowers from our gardens. Others have ambled across the pasture to collect eggs from the hen house. Still others have learned to muck stalls and pick hooves, maneuver the infamous “honey wagon,” or care for our goats, sheep, or pigs. Off the property, campers have had the chance to visit local farms like Sugarhouse Creamery and Essex Farm.
Connecting children to where their food comes from, on large and small scales, is an important part of our summer program.
On Monday our oldest campers helped with our annual chicken harvest. While participation is voluntary, the chicken harvest is often a life-changing experience. Uneasiness, discomfort, and sadness are natural responses to this event. On Sunday night, farm manager Katie Culpepper talked to campers about the harvest, reminding them that the birds give their lives to help sustain us, and that we treat them with respect and compassion through how we care for and slaughter them. Through participation in the harvest, campers gain a deeper understanding of the where our animal foods come from. This Sunday we will all share a meal of barbecue chicken, completing the farm-to-fork cycle.
Meanwhile, in the Camper Kitchen, children baked flatbread pizza topped with homemade cheese and pesto made with our basil. They picked and jammed currants from the Children’s Garden and rolled sushi with our cucumbers. Colored pencils and sketch pads were toted to the Children’s Garden so that campers could create drawings inspired by all that grows there. And in the senior camp craft shop, farm intern Kelly demonstrated how to spin wool that had been sheared from our flock earlier in the season. Treetops’ sheep-to-shawl program allows children to process wool through hands-on activities, and many campers have been busy this week braiding our raw and felted wool into colorful rugs. (Also, check out Fresh From the Farm, Treetops’ farm blog.)