On the farm | TheUnion.com

On the farm

Kids age six and up visited the Food Love Project farm this week taking part in the first weeklong summer camp.
Laura Brown/flavor@theunion.com | Submitted photo

On Monday, campers arrived for their first day of summer camp at the Food Love Project education farm.

By noon, they had planted kale, harvested cucumbers, fed the chickens, looked for bugs, learned about seeds, made “tree cookie” name tags and planted trays of micro greens to take home.

“This camp gives kids a chance to create and build their relationship with where food comes from while having a chance to be outside and get dirty,” said farm director Amanda Thibodeau.

This is the third season for Thibodeau, who started the Food Love Project, part of the Living Lands Agrarian Network, located on Bear Yuba Land Trust’s property, known as Burton Homestead.

Since it began, the farm has provided more than 5,000 hours of education to local public school children, at-risk youth, homeless adults and many local volunteers.

Also serving as the project coordinator for Live Healthy Nevada County’s Farm to School Program, Thibodeau works to form more school and farm partnerships and programs throughout the county.

“We love doing field trips, but we’re especially excited about sharing the farm on a day-to-day basis and letting kids deepen their relationship with this place,” Thibodeau said.

By diversifying the opportunities at the farm in the form of weeklong camps and now a summer U-pick every Tuesday, Thibodeau and farm manager Katie Turner hope to build on the farm’s financial self-sufficiency.

Educated at Stanford University with a background in archaeology, Turner spent six months “WWOOFing” (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) on farms in New Zealand before applying for a Youth and Community Education internship with Living Lands last season.

Joining Turner and Thibodeau are farm intern Chrissy Mehnert and Lola Montez, the resident dog and farm ambassador.

“I think Amanda’s educational mission with her farm is a great resource for our community, since my children had not yet had an opportunity to go on a field trip to the farm, I thought the summer camp was a great learning adventure,” said local mom Erin Thiem.

“We love the personal attention that the children get, participating in fun farming activities and being connected to the land,” said Elizabeth De Sa, whose daughter Althea is attending the camp.

Kristina Onken said her son Max was interested in chickens after raising some in his kindergarten class. Her shy daughter was excited to revisit the farm where she had gone for field trips.

Yet not all children can afford to go to camp, and there is a greater need for scholarships than the farm can provide. Food Love farmers are looking for three more donors who can send youth to camp.

Each day, children will explore a different theme at camp such as “Seeds, Soil and Animals,” “Water and the Wild,” “Diversity” and “Eating the Harvest.”

Campers will choose a camp name, be assigned morning chores work together on tasks such as watering seeds they have planted, tending the chickens and harvesting morning snack. They will make art projects and cook with solar ovens.

“The objective with camp is for kids to get a feel for all the different elements that go into growing food, to use their powers of observation and to participate in hands on activities and explorations about the world around them. It’s a chance to learn mindfulness and responsibility in a way that’s fun and engaging. The reality is that everyone will be dirty, wet, tired and full at the end of each day of camp, and that sounds pretty good to me,” said Thibodeau.

Camp runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day, during the weeks of July 15–19 and July 22–26. The cost is a sliding scale running $100-$200 per camper. Families can also chose to come for a day for a cost of $40. The camp is open to children age six and up.

Learn more by contacting Farmer Amanda at foodloveproject@gmail.com or go to http:// livinglandsnetwork.org to pay online and download registration materials.

Laura Brown is a freelance writer and outreach coordinator for the Bear Yuba Land Trust. Contact her at laurabrown323@gmail.com or 530-401-4877.

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