In collaboration with Stanford University, the Santa Clara Unified School District is offering a Food and Farm Summer Camp. The camp started in late June and has already had three sessions with three more to be held on July 22 – 26, July 29 – Aug. 2 and Aug. 5 – 9.
“Some of our days feel slightly magical walking through the orchard picking fruit that later becomes part of our jamboree,” said Kelsey Perusse, the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for the camp. “Other days we have popcorn and watermelon picnics as we sit between two rows of popcorn. It is hard to remember that we are nestled in Sunnyvale instead of out in the valley. Kids do not ask for screen time, rather they race to the Wisteria teepee to hear Alessandra Marcone, a Stanford counselor, read a book from the Magical School Bus Series.”
Each Food and Farm Summer Camp is geared to a different age range with the first two weeks of camp focused on children ages 5 – 7 years old. Followed by weeks focused on children 8 – 10 years old and the last week of the camp focuses on children 11 – 14 years old.
“During the school year all the K-12 (classes) can come to the farm for tours,” explained Mint Pasakdee, a Farm Educator for the SCUSD. “Each day there is a theme.
One day, the campers are taught about where food comes from. Another day they learn about water and why water is important for farming and nature science. They also learn about composting, soil and earthworms and even about the life cycle.
“We have chickens, beehives, and a little bit of everything to understand where food comes from,” Pasakdee said. “The big picture is they learn about organic farming. What is in season and where your food comes from.”
Perusse explained that campers take what they learn and incorporate their knowledge into their lives back home.
“What I have found to be most impressive is how surprised and encouraged parents are of what their kids have tried at camp and what they start requesting at home,” said Perusse. “When kids…harvest their own produce and prepare it, they build a connection. Over and over again we see kids embrace and enjoy trying new things.
“Our 5 – 7 year olds help to turn the spiralizer and their eyes light up when they see zucchini noodles emerge,” continued Perusse. “On the farm, David Tuttle, our District farmer, loves to grow San Marzano tomatoes. While the San Marzanos from our farm are not quite ready yet, we have been purchasing the same canned variety grown locally. The kids pick oregano, basil and thyme to make the marinara sauce. They coat the noodles in their freshly made sauce and many of them have gone home and requested something similar. On another day, we will harvest kale. The kids tear it into squares, and then massage — often with Moana planning in the background — so we can sing a bit of love into as we go. Massaging the kale makes it easier for the kids to digest, but I have also seen it helps kids love to eat it.”
There are still three more sessions of the Food and Farm Summer Camp. For more information on the camp, visit the Santa Clara Unified School District’s webpage www.santaclarausd.org/Page/2245.