This post was written by Jennifer John, Executive Director at The Sylvia Center.
Every summer, The Sylvia Center hosts campers at our Young Chefs Farm Camp on Katchkie Farm. Young people, ages 7 to 16, spend all day outside in our learning garden and field house. Campers cook farm-fresh meals and snacks; weed, plant and harvest in the learning garden; collect eggs from our coop; and make garden-inspired arts and crafts. Most importantly, they work together to learn where fresh, nutritious food comes from, and how it is the foundation of lifelong healthy habits.
On the last day, our campers worked together in teams to produce the winning dish for the lunchtime Family Feast. Each team was given the same ingredients and 30 minutes to make their dish. Campers talked over their ideas, then chopped, sautéed and plated their improvised recipes. They had spent all week learning about garden-fresh produce and building their own cooking skills; and they were ready to show off.
It was a hard decision, but the judges chose the winning recipe — quinoa, feta, ground cherry with lots of turmeric and decorated with edible flowers. The team quickly got back to the prep area to produce the dish for lunch, while the other campers harvested vegetables and decorated the field house with all of their projects from the week. Family and friends were thrilled with the delicious meal, and shared how much their children had enjoyed their time with us on the farm.
When we asked our campers what activity they liked best from the week, it was hard to choose. The visit from Paul MacPhail of Bee Hollow Farm & Apiary was a favorite because they got to learn about bees while tasting varieties of honey. Making fresh fettuccine and pesto with basil from the garden was another favorite because they got to use the hand cranked pasta machine. Others said that making their own pizzas in the wood-fired outdoor oven was at the top. But everyone agreed that they loved making friends and spending all day doing hands-on activities with our staff.
The Young Chefs Farm Camp is a part of our fun, inclusive and interactive summertime learning programming in Columbia County and New York City. The Sylvia Center provides a number of scholarships so that our campers can have an experience that reflects the diversity of Columbia County. Your support of The Sylvia Center ensures we can bring nutrition education, youth development and summer fun to all of the communities we serve.