From: Modern Farmer magazine
Day campers care for rabbits and goats, grow vegetables from seed, even take tractor tours of the 10-acre fifth-generation Petersen Family Farm. Bonus: Attendees can return in fall to harvest pumpkins they planted in summer. (Ages 5–12; petersenfarm.com)
Northfork Farm & Outback’s sleepaway sessions school the junior horsey set in riding, grooming, stall-mucking, and calf-roping. Off-saddle camp fun: a re-created Old West town and Native American village, plus two swimming holes. (Ages 8–15; northforkoutback.com)
Ghent, New York
The 500-acre, biodynamic Hawthorne Valley Farm engages overnighters and daytime visitors in activities animal (milking cows), vegetable (picking beans), and culinary (assisting with the camp’s organic, vegetarian meals). (Ages 8–16; hawthornevalleyfarm.org)
Muir Beach, California
At Slide Ranch, a 134-acre coastal farm and nature preserve in Marin County, children learn about land stewardship while exploring wildflower fields and tidal pools. This day camp encompasses down-and-dirty farmwork, too, such as feeding chickens and pulling weeds. (Ages 5–13; slideranch.org)
The Quintero family of Rancho Alegre Farm crams a lot into each half day. Nursery- and elementary-schoolers can ride tractors and horses, care for goats, and nosh on snacks, like cheese-stuffed zucchini blossoms, made from ingredients farmed on-site. (Ages 4–12; ranchoalegrefarm.com)
Fifteen miles from downtown Washington, D.C., Arcadia Farm shows urban kids where food comes from. Day campers tend tomatoes and basil in the Pizza Garden, learn about composting, and collect eggs from the 4-acre farm’s popular Rhode Island Reds. (Ages 6–11; arcadiafood.org)
Pocantico Hills, New York
Famed as an educational resource for ag-minded adults, the Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture also connects the farm-to-table dots for budding activists, via days devoted to livestock tending, crop management, and—of course—cooking with the harvest. (Grades 1–10; stonebarnscenter.org)
BY Candice Santaferraro, Farm-to-Table, Barnraiser writer
Farm-based Education Programs from California to New York
Summer provides one of the richest moments for learning on a farm; plants are being planted as the harvest ripens, the spring brings baby animals and thus more work. When school gets out, farms across the country use this as an opportunity to turn their fields into an experiential classroom. Here are some farm-based education summer programs from California to New York that we recommend.
Connolly Ranch – Napa, CA – With a mission of connecting kids and families to nature through farm-based education, they serve over 5,000 kids each year through their programming. Over twelve weeks of summer, there are multiple one-week camp options for ages 3-13. To keep things fresh, each week brings new topics for ever-changing exploration and fun. Campers will grow, learn and play through creative, hands-on projects, hikes, crafts, games, gardening, cooking, hanging out with animals, swinging on a tire swing and much more.
Slide Ranch – Marin, CA – Located in a pristine setting overlooking the coast, right off the iconic Highway 1 in Marin County, it’s an ideal landscape for learning. Slide Ranch operates fully as an educational permaculture farm with a mission to connect children to nature. By farming, cooking, caring for animals and exploring wilderness and the coast, they teach visitors of all ages to see the connection between their own health, a healthy food system and a healthy environment.
123 Farm Camp – Cherry Valley, CA – When Highland Springs Resort first started out as a ranch and stage coach stop, there were no such things as pesticide sprays. For over 150 years, they have continued to raise livestock and operate an on-site organic farm. This summer the resort hosts a Summer Day Camp and overnight camp that highlights the connection between the farm and the dinner table.
Zenger Farm – Portland, OR – The history of this urban, educational farm is rooted in early European settlement, but the farm is now an official public space. They grow four acres of vegetables, raise laying hens and turkeys, keep bees and a large population for worms to compost farm waste. Children get to cook and make crafts in their Urban Grange, plant the kitchen garden, and explore the farm and surrounding wetlands.
Seattle Tilth – Seattle, WA – This Seattle farm brings children into their mission to inspire and educate people to safeguard natural resources while building an equitable and sustainable local food system. At their summer camps, kids spend the days outdoors being “urban farmers” — discovering where our food comes from and learning about the natural world.
I Want To Be A Farmer Workshop at The Urban Farm – Denver, CO – The Urban Farm is uniquely both farm and equestrian center. During this week-long workshop, kids will enjoy a hands-on experience that incorporates the work of the farm with learning about the many contributions that livestock make to our everyday lives – from what we eat to what we wear.
Cure Organic Farm – Boulder, CO – This camp on a small, organic, diversified farm allows kids to learn everything from making and planting beds, adding compost, watering, weeding, and harvesting, to eating and observing. They get to feed the chickens and hang out with the pigs, sheep, honey bees, and ducks; while exploring the ecosystem of the irrigation ditches and wild-craft seeds for identification as well as art projects.
Nature’s Farm Camp – Orangeville, IL – A fun overnight camp connecting kids with nature, food, each other and themselves. Kids get to grow food, cook it, explore the wilderness and learn survival skills, make art projects, play, and eat delicious food.
Elodie Farms Summer Camp – Rougemont, NC – Gathering eggs, feeding the animals, and getting dirty in the garden, making goat cheese, looking for clams along the shoreline, and maybe take a canoe out for a spin. Those are just a few of the morning activities at this camp. The afternoons get better; playing games, making ice cream from goat milk, and creating “recycled” art.
Hawthorne Valley Farm – Upstate NY – These overnight farm camps seek to build reverence for life and community awareness through living, playing and working on an active biodynamic farm. Children feed the animals, clean the barn, collect chicken eggs, garden, horseback ride, hike, learn nature based arts and crafts, sing, and swim.
Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture – Alexandria, VA – This non-profit, creating a more equitable and sustainable local food system in the Washington, DC, is based on the historic grounds of Woodlawn Estate. Camps run for four different weeks through the summer with different themes.