Let’s Get Cookin’

By Grace Jin –  12th grade, North Allegheny Senior High School

On a sunny summer afternoon at the Garfield community park, you may have heard sounds of laughter coming from the campers of Harvest and Create. From adventures at the chicken house to lessons about agriculture, an urban farm provides unique opportunities for 8-12 year old campers to get away from the city and experience nature. This 2-week summer camp, sponsored by Union Project, Garfield Community Farm, and Food Revolution Pittsburgh offers an exciting variety of hands-on activities connected by three majors themes: grow, cook, and create.

Counselor and kids put up the painted Harvest and Create poster!

Counselor and kids put up the painted Harvest and Create poster!

GROW

Coming from the city, I had little previous knowledge about where my food came from. A short visit to the Garfield farm transformed my understanding of sustainable agriculture. I was extremely impressed when a boy named all of the plants near us: apple and pear trees, onions, tomatoes, mustard, gooseberries, black currants, and other plants I’ve never heard of. The boy then explained that biodiversity protects plants from bugs and invasive species. The young campers demonstrated the truth behind the educational tool: “show, don’t tell.” Reading about ecology in a textbook can never measure up to immersing in a farm environment while learning about the science of plant growth.

The Garfield community farm

COOK

Raspberry jam. Strawberry rhubarb pie. Kale pineapple juice. At this point, it is safe to say that I’m not the only one drooling. Over the course of 2 weeks, Harvest and Create campers learned about food preparation, essential knife skills, and creative cooking. Making delicious, fresh, and healthy recipes, the kids developed lifelong skills and learned to differentiate between real and processed foods. On the last day of camp, the parents were invited for an all-camp picnic. Of course, the salad greens, flowers, and vinaigrette were harvested or prepared by the campers. When it came time for dessert, Pittsburgh chef Chad Townsend’s homemade ice cream had families standing in long lines. After all, who doesn’t want a strawberry and vanilla flavored treat topped with granola, fresh berries, and blueberry sauce?

Mouth-watering homemade ice-cream with fresh berries and granola

Mouth-watering homemade ice-cream with fresh berries and granola

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Farm picnic!

CREATE

In addition to playing with dirt in the garden, the campers created art with clay. In Union Project’s ceramic studio, campers learned techniques such as wheel throwing, firing, and glazing. They created colorfully designed place settings (plate, bowl, and cup) to use for the camp dinner and then take home.

Beautiful pottery!

Beautiful pottery!

After many hugs and goodbyes, Harvest and Create came to an end. However, the skills that the 18 campers have learned—to grow, cook, and create—will surely last a lifetime.


headshotGrace Jin is a senior at North Allegheny Senior High School. She has edited for VARIATIONS magazine, won Scholastics awards, and published multiple pieces on Teen Ink print magazine. Grace lives in McCandless and loves to play piano, paint, and eat ice-cream.

 

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