Crop City 2015 – Mid-summer Recap

060815_Crop City-6The warm summer sun is upon us, veggies are thriving at the Hands On Nashville Urban Farm and Crop City summer camp is in full bloom. Here’s a look at what’s been on the learning menu during weeks 1-3! 

Throughout each day at Crop City, youth and teens rotate through three stations of games and hands-on activities:

Growing Station: Here, participants learn how plants grow and spend some time in the garden observing the changes of the summer and harvesting fresh produce.

Impact Stations – Here, participants learn about food systems and their environmental impacts by following foods through different farming scenarios.

Nutrition Station – Here, youth learn about the value of different foods. Since eating healthy can seem like quite a challenge, fresh vegetables harvested from the Farm are used each day to show participants how to make a quick, simple, and delicious snack.

Here are a few highlights of what we’ve been talking about!

Whole vs. Processed Foods.

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We’ve been exploring the differences between real and processed foods and the benefits of eating foods as close to their natural state as possible. Each day, campers have the opportunity to try fresh food grown at the Farm. We’ve proudly introduced some campers to new vegetables for the very first time, including beets and rutabaga!

How to Harvest!

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How do you know your favorite fruit or vegetable is perfectly ripe? Campers learned how to use all of five senses to find out. For example, to see if your favorite herbs are ready, you may use touch, taste, smell, and sight to check. For a melon, you may rely on sight, sound, smell. With knowledge in tow, campers have put their senses to work in the garden to harvest vegetables that were ripe for eating!

How to read a seed.

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At the Growing station, campers are reading seed packets to help understand how far apart and how deep to plant seeds in their own gardens. We’ve harvested some delicious root veggies to take to the nutrition station!

When to Water…

060815_Crop City-2-2You could say soil, sun, and water are plants best friends. The soil is a great indicator of when a plant needs water. Campers were asked to identify plants in the garden that needed water, and had the job of making sure it got a good soaking. Remember: water the roots not leaves! As shown above, participants also wash the vegetables before they are prepared at the nutrition station.


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Let’s face it – adding a little salt to a great dish can enhances its flavor and make it taste downright delicious. But since too much sodium can negatively impact our bodies blood pressure and muscle function, Crop City campers explored how much salt is a good thing, how healthy herbs can be a tasty substitute, and strategies to avoid too much sodium. Rule of thumb: If a serving of sodium is 140 mg or less, it’s a pretty good choice.

071515_Crop City-10Resources, Types of Farms & Workers Rights

At the Impacts Station, campers play games that explore broader concepts about the food system and the environment. During the first few weeks, we’ve discussed how far food travels to get to the stores and stands in our neighborhoods, and the differences between how food is grown on large-scale farms and small-scale farms. We talked about where our trash goes and how composting can reduce food waste, as well as workers rights and food production.

In fact, one camper told a leader that when he grows up he wants to own a tomato company. That way,he said, he can ensure workers’ rights are met and reward their efforts.


Each day, we use the vegetables and herbs harvested from the Farm to make a delicious snack. Even though these were mostly new foods, our campers were brave and found out they actually liked it! For example:

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Rutabaga & Beets – We’ve cooked up some rutabaga (many of us eating it for the first time!) and beet roots and then wilted the greens from the very same plant. We then added in fresh-picked herbs, like thyme and oregano, to make a delicious and nutritious snack!

Stay tuned for more updates from the Farm!

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