Summer Camps at CSG

Posted by on Aug 17, 2017 | Comments Off on Summer Camps at CSG

Summer Camps at CSG

by Jordan Johnson

This summer has been an exciting summer full of garden programming. We have been kept busy hosting Southwood Boys and Girls Club, Greenstone on 5th, Cherry Avenue Boys and Girls Club and Parks and Recreation Summer Camp. Over the past 9 weeks we have had a lot of garden activities covering lots of subjects, from seeding, to growing/maintaining the garden, to harvesting produce that has ripened.

Garden to Table Camp: B&G Cherry Avenue and Parks and Rec Camp

We had three week sessions with both Parks and Recreation Camp and Boys and Girls Cherry Avenue. The first hour and a half of the sessions were out in the garden, where we had lessons on gardening, produce and harvesting. The second half was moved to the PB&J Kitchen where we took the produce that we harvested and made a lunch (personally, I loved the kale pesto on the whole wheat pasta with sautéed zucchini and onions).

Out in the garden we spent each week focusing on a different subject, be it composting or storing/saving or the role of leaves. We’ve had some very hot weeks over this summer and had to take a lot of breaks to drink water or go pluck a carrot out of the ground to get our second wind. Once we settled in, knowing that the heat wasn’t going anywhere, we had some fun out there. There was even one girl who was not able to make camp the last week of Garden-to-Table camp but her mom brought her just to the Buford Garden for programming because she liked it so much!

There were some activities that the kids were naturally drawn to. One was compost sifting. The kids shoveled the fresh compost into a sifter. We would push the compost through a wire mesh into a wheelbarrow, picking bugs and worms up and putting them in the wheelbarrow as well, not to squish them on the mesh. The end result was very fine, soft compost. One kid decided that he wanted a bed made of it and I don’t blame him.

They also really enjoyed the week where Courtney, from PB&J Fund, and I showed all of the flowers in the garden that you could eat. They liked the spicy flavor of the Nasturtium and the subtle flavor of the Calendula. This activity led to us wandering the garden picking and trying raw carrots, tomatoes, kale and even beets. We ended up sporting some very pink teeth that day.

Our goal in the kitchen this summer was to create meals that highlighted whatever was on hand in the garden (without the need of specific ingredients). We ate pasta in pesto, and they learned how to make stir-fry and some savory corn pancakes filled with peppers and onions and fresh corn. During our storing/saving session, we ate a pickled beets and carrots that we prepared the week previously. The pickled carrots were so good that a boy who didn’t like carrots helped himself to a second serving. Needless to say, we always left with full bellies and smiles on our faces.

Boys and Girls Southwood and Greenstone on 5th

These groups ran parallel to each other and got to experience both the fun and challenging parts of maintaining a garden for the summer.

Southwood and Greenstone on 5th had very full sessions every week out in the garden. They had been very excited, ready, and willing (from the very beginning) to get dirty and improve the garden.

Having been with us the longest this summer, we have seen the lifecycle of a garden bed, from digging and breaking up the soil and planting buckwheat, to getting a chance to see buckwheat flowers and fold that buckwheat into the soil. We had time to focus days on pests in the garden (those pesky Harlequin bugs on our kale!), weeding, pollinators, worms and compost, and preserving foods.

One of our favorite activities was the grain grinding relay race that showed the difference between using mortar and pestle versus the hand crank grinder to grind corn.

On one of the hotter days we needed to pull up the kale that was going bad. We decided to spare the leaves that were still good. Along with the good kale, we harvested banana peppers and onions and spent the time in the shade preparing it to be cooked in our mobile kitchen. It was a delicious way to spend a hot morning.

Now, the summer is coming to an end and we have a garden ready to be used for the school year and were able to use the produce that was harvested during the summer. We had a very sweaty, dirty, busy time getting out and involved in the garden, but it has been one of my favorite parts of the summer. The kids should be ready to get out into the garden at their schools and become leaders.