This week, as part of camper orientation, children began to explore the Treetops garden. “Spicy”, “oniony”, “bitey” and “sharp” were just some of the reactions to a sampling of garlic scapes. The tasting was preceded by the story of our garlic. Campers learned when the crop was planted, what the seed looks like, who planted the garden, and when it would be harvested. Mike, our farm manager, stressed the importance of knowing about, and participating in, the work that goes into growing food for our community. After tasting the scapes, groups each visited the Children’s Garden. Campers were first free to explore the Garden on their own.

Together we then compared the difference between wild and cultivated mint before tasting dill and cilantro, nibbling on edible weeds, and learning how the sundial works. Since the orientation, both campers and counselors have been staying busy in and around the garden. A group of campers went out before breakfast this week to harvest for that day’s meals. Spinach, kale, rhubarb, herbs and more were carefully picked, washed and brought to the kitchen. The first week of Garden Harvest culminated in a lunch on Sunday, which reflected the most abundant crops of the past week.

Each week a new group of Campers will participate in Garden Harvest, and in turn, as we follow the rhythms of the garden, our meals will look and taste differently. Aside from Garden Harvest jobs, campers planted poppies and cosmos in empty beds, weeded around roses, trained morning glories to climb the garden tipis, and turned our compost piles. While working, campers  brainstormed creative ideas for the garden. Discussions revolved around wind chimes to be made in the pot shop, wooden benches to be constructed, and the possibility of adding new garden musical sculptures to the garden landscape. These would join a garden instrument built this school year from parts of an old piano and a welded collection of pots and pans (complete with drum sticks).

More often, work in the garden is accompanied by conversations about eating. As campers tend to the plants, whether watering, trimming, or harvesting, they are making the connection from farm to plate. As such, the camper kitchen has been bustling, as well. Over the last few days, campers have harvested from the garden to prepare rosemary crackers, lavender scones, garlic scape goat cheese, strawberry jam and mint ice cream. A group baked a breakfast frittata in the wood-fired oven that included our eggs, garlic scapes, kale, spinach and chives. The following evening, a different group worked together to create a beautiful meal of goat cheese stuffed ravioli, with garlic scape pesto and a salad of wild edibles, each component made by hand or carefully harvested by the campers. As the campers ate this particular meal together there was undeniable pride for the work they had done. Campers also expressed immense appreciation for the daily efforts of our kitchen staff, farm team, and community at large, who all work together to provide fresh ingredients and delicious home cooked meals.