4H Farm to Fork Summer Camp
Farm to School programs have become a popular way of teaching youth about agriculture and healthy eating, while also supporting farmers through using local food in school cafeterias. According to the National Farm to School Network, there were six Farm to School programs in the United States in 2001 and an estimated 2,257 by 2011. Farm summer camps are also a great way to instill appreciation of local agriculture in children. N.C. Cooperative Extension’s 4H is hosting a Farm to Fork camp July 22-25th that will focus on getting to know food and how it is grown. This camp will incorporate gardening, cooking, and farm and farmers market visits.
The four-day camp will start with a focus on gardening and a chance for the kids to get their hands dirty. Gardening with kids is a great way to teach about the connection between the environment and the food we eat. Also, there is evidence that garden-based nutrition education programs can increase fruit and vegetable intake among youth. Kids tend to eat what they know and toss the rest. It may take 7-15 times of trying a food before a child acquires a taste for it. By combining the fun of digging in a garden and tasting home grown food, kids are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables.
A trip to the Hickory Farmers Market will give the kids a chance to talk to farmer vendors, meet the market manager, and see a chef picking up veggies that will be used in a local restaurant. We will also do some shopping for locally grown items for making lunch and snacks. Visiting the market will give us a chance to compare the different ways food travels from farm to our plates, through grocery stores, restaurants, school cafeterias, and local markets.
Farm visits are also a great way to teach kids about food and introduce farming as a career. During the Farm to Fork camp, we will visit local farms where the farmers will show us what modern agriculture is like on a daily basis. Exposure to the hard work that goes into producing food helps children understand the value and pride of our local agricultural heritage and strengthens our community.
Lastly, we will spend a day cooking and eating all the wonderful local food we’ve seen and learned about throughout the camp. Rather than trying to promote the healthy aspects of fruits and vegetables, we will focus on tangible, hands-on experiences with whole foods. If food also comes with a positive relationship and understanding of how it was grown, kids are more likely to eat and enjoy it.
Gardening, farm field trips, cooking and tastings are important experiences for youth that not only encourage healthy eating, but also build connections to agriculture and rural communities. There is still space available in the 4H Summer Fun Farm to Fork camp. It will be 9am-3pm on July 22-25th for kids ages 8 and up. Call the Extension office at 828-465-8240 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.