Notes from the Farm: Summer Camp Feeds Hungry Young Minds

By Josh Corlew, Hands On Nashville Urban Agriculture Program Manager

Sunflowers last summer were beautiful – about to flower again!

For the past few weeks, the Urban Farm has been thriving with activity. The mild spring weather and mix of sun and rain has made the fields so happy — the garlic is ready to harvest, the tomatoes and peppers are beginning to set fruit, and the sunflowers should be opening their heads in just a few weeks. With our second full growing (and teaching!) season underway, we can’t believe how much has been accomplished in the last year thanks to the community’s support!

Along with all of the anticipation around growth and renewal on the Farm comes the excitement of our second year of Hands On Nashville’s summer youth development program called Crop City. This farm-to-table, curriculum-based camp engages 400 young people in fun learning activities around healthy eating, nutrition, and connecting them to where food comes from — the ground! Most of the participating children are from neighborhoods with limited access to fresh produce. Through Crop City, the youth get a chance to learn from one another, play a role in growing the vegetables at the Farm, and learn about making healthy food choices. During the final week of the program, chefs from local Nashville restaurants will visit the youth on the Farm and show them how to prepare simple recipes using the healthy produce they’ve helped to grow. (Special thanks to Chef Tony Galzin of Flyte World Dining and Wine, and Caroline Galzin of Rumours Wine Bar, for their support in this effort!)

Crop City participants playing an ice breaker game, Giants, Wizards, and Dragons!
Crop City campers this week playing an ice breaker game – Giants, Wizards, and Dragons!

We were inspired by the results of last summer’s program at the Urban Farm: participants were able to recognize more vegetables than they had at the start of the program, and more than 75% said they were trying to make healthier food choices as a result of their experience. We are working toward even bigger and better outcomes in 2013, and can’t wait to share them with you!

Hands On Nashville Urban Farm Apprentices during their training last week doing a team-building exercise.
Hands On Nashville Urban Farm Apprentices during their training last week doing a team-building exercise.

 

One of the coolest aspects of Crop City is that the curriculum is lead by the Hands On Nashville Urban Farm Apprentices. Selected through a competitive application and interview process, these amazing teenagers are leading all of the Crop City activities under our guidance. We’ll be introducing the 15 Apprentices via this blog soon, so stay tuned! (They are one incredibly talented group of high school students.)

Chef_Galzin1small
Last summer, Chef Tony Galzin (Flyte World Dining & Wine) demonstrated how to make a tasty, healthy salad using the veggies the campers helped grow. We are excited to have Chef Galzin back again this year for the cooking workshop in July!

The community continues to be very supportive of our efforts at the Farm. We have enjoyed working with several corporate volunteer groups over the past few weeks on infrastructure improvement projects at the Farm. Special thanks to Starbucks, Ford, Cummins, and Deloitte for their hard work and support.

If you’re looking to get involved with the Urban Farm, there are two ways to support our efforts:

1) Volunteer! During the summer, our public volunteer opportunities are a little more limited, since we have so many young helping hands. But we do have weekly early-morning composting projects, and we’d love to have you join us (a perfect way to make an impact but beat the heat!).
> Click here to sign up. 

2) Support our Urban Agriculture Program with a monetary gift.
> You can make a donation here. 
Be sure to type “Urban Agriculture Program” in the “description” field.

Planting sweet potatoes. These turn into vines with beautiful purple flowers (and the sweet potatoes are so fun to dig up once they're ready!)
Planting sweet potatoes. These turn into vines with purple flowers (and the sweet potatoes are so fun to dig up once they’re ready!)

If you have questions about the Urban Farm, please email me at josh@hon.org. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more Farm updates throughout the growing season!

 

 

 

 

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Josh demonstrates how to plant spinach at the Urban Farm.
Josh demonstrates how to plant spinach at the Urban Farm this spring.

Josh Corlew is Hands On Nashville’s Urban Agriculture Program Manager. He oversees the organization’s efforts to engage volunteers in service opportunities that empower them to gain gardening skills, learn about healthy eating choices, and help address our city’s food access issues. An AmeriCorps alumnus, Josh also has a secret past life as a Trekkie (he’s a big fan of the TV series Star Trek, for the uninitiated among us), and he has been known to participate in death-defying canoe trips.

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