Employee Spotlight – Athena Cameron

Posted by on Jan 19, 2016 in Food & Farm program, Food for thought, healthy food, school food, wellness | 0 comments

 

 

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This week we spotlight one of our longest working servers, Athena Cameron. Athena, from Gravesend, Brooklyn, has been with Butter Beans since 2011, making this her 5th school year working as one of our most reliable and enthusiastic servers.

Athena loves to be in the school setting and her favorite part of each day is interacting with the kids and her coworkers. She worked in school lunch before coming to Butter Beans and loves to see how much kids appreciate the healthier lunches that we make.

Motivated to work for Butter Beans because of her passion for kids nutritional eating, Athena also cares deeply the wellness of animals. Outside of her work at Butter Beans, Athena spends many hours volunteering at local animal shelters. One day she hopes to start a shelter of her own and build a refuge for our animal friends.

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One Summer Morning at Stone Barns Farm Camp

Posted by on Sep 9, 2015 in agriculture, cooking with kids, Food & Farm program, gardens, healthy food, healthy lifestyle, local food, summer camp, sustainability, wellness | 0 comments

Sitting among the soft rolling hills of Tarrytown, New York, resides Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture – the rural outpost of Dan Barber’s Blue Hill restaurant and the nonprofit educational farm where some 450 students spend part of their summer here each year. Now in its eleventh season, Stone Barns Farm Camp offers kids in grades first through eighth the opportunity to explore the food that fuels them on farm-to-table adventures and interactive activities in food and agriculture.

 

The camp’s aim to inspire future food leaders resonates with us here at Butter Beans. At Butter Beans Food & Garden Summer Camp we are continually seeking innovative examples of food education, and opportunities to share best practicesIMG_2953 in the field. With this vision in mind, and inspired by the Farm Camp’s online brochure, I reached out to Stone Barns to arrange a visit to camp. A few e-mail exchanges and some minor schedule changes later, and I was on my way up I-87 headed north, out of the bustling traffic of New York City to Tarrytown. I pulled into the gravel driveway that led up to the Stone Barns Center at 8:45 AM. Though only an hour’s drive north of midtown Manhattan, the tranquil, misty fields lining either side of the drive painted a bucolic scene, evoking images of a simpler time when the pace of life ebbed in rhythm with the rising sun and changing winds.

 

A bit further up the drive, the scene before me told a more nuanced story of this verdant setting. As I walked to the Center’s entrance, two school buses pulled up to the sidewalk, opened their doors, and out piled two dozen city kids, unabashed smiles and visible excitement adorning their faces on today – their first day of camp. The day of my visit was the first Monday of the final session of Farm Camp 2015, and both new and returning campers filed into the main hall to decorate their farm journals in preparation for the day ahead.

 

Walking among the tables of Sprouts, Growers, Farmers, and Foragers (apt names for the various age groups), I listened in as the counselors drummed up excitement for the day’s activities and fielded the numerous questions of curious campers. The groups gathered in the Center’s stone courtyard for an official welcome to camp and then set out for farm adventures.

 

I followed Camp Director Jason Hult to address the first item on the agenda for the Sprouts – turkey herding. Most of us are familiar with the relationship of shepherd and sheep, but as the campers and I learned that morning herding is an equally important task for turkeys given their lifestyle at Stone Barns.

 

One of the farm’s operating principles is happy animals. As Dan Barber illuminates in his book The Third Plate, animals that are cared for and respected during their life in turn produce a superior meal, both in terms of nutrition and flavor. For Stone Barns, part of this means that the turkeys are moved between their indoor and outdoor homes during the day, and given plenty of space to move about.

 

After an engaging explanation and demonstration from Jason (in which Jason and I played the turkeys for the kids to practice their herding skills), we set off down the patIMG_2942h to the turkey house and met one of the farm apprentices to shepherd the turkeys to their outside paddock. Some of the campers had trepidations as we started down the dirt path with the flock – a justifiable feeling given that some of the campers were not much taller than these confident heritage turkeys. But with the guidance and encouragement of the camp counselors, the campers gracefully saw to it that each turkey made it to its outdoor home.

 

Throughout the morning as I listened to the exchanges between campers and counselors over garden beds and grassy pastures, I was reminded of the unique community that grows from a shared excitement for food. Whether you’re sowing seeds or herding turkeys, it’s hard not to get excited. Every way you approach it, food is an opportunity for engagement. It is the universal language that binds us, regardless of age, ethnicity, or professional pursuit.

 

The students who come through Butter Beans Food & Garden Summer Camp and Stone Barns Farm Camp give us hope for what the future of food holds when we empower youth with the tools to grow, cook, and pause to consider the food on their plate. As a farmer sows seeds in the soil and awaits that first flush of green to burst forth from the ground, so too does an educator sow the seeds of innovation that will grow a mindful community of global food citizens.

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Special thanks to our friends at Stone Barns for their gracious hospitality and abundant energy!

Written by Kelly McGlinchey, Director of Food Education

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campfire stories: growing the magic of summer

Posted by on Aug 14, 2015 in agriculture, cooking classes, cooking with kids, families, Food & Farm program, Food for thought, food waste, gardens, healthy food, seasonal celebrations, summer camp, sustainability, wellness | 0 comments

Today Butter Beans Food & Garden summer campers celebrate the final day of camp for the 2015 season.

In the eight weeks since our summer camp began, nearly 100 students have come through the Food & Garden camp program – pickling, planting, foraging, cooking, sharing, and growing together through a hands-on experience where the rooftop farms, community gardens, farmers markets and restaurants of New York City provide the classroom.

This is always a bittersweet day for our team of food educators. For campers and counselors alike, saying good-bye can be difficult after so many adventures together exploring the food landscape of the Big Apple. But we do so knowing this parting is really more of a “see you soon.”

The children who graduate today as Food & Garden Experts – and all those students who have come through our summer programs in the past two months – will continue to explore, innovate, inspire, and share in growing the good food movement.

These campers are future business leaders, professors, politicians, lawyers, policy makers, social workers, teachers, and consumers. And, if at ages 6-10 they are celebrating seasonal food, helping the health of our ecosystems, and connecting with their local food communities… well, it seems that our future is in good hands!

Though Butter Beans Food & Garden Summer Camp 2015 is at an end, the magic does not stop here!

This is only the beginning of the adventures that await our campers, and we can’t wait to see where their adventures lead them.

Check out how you can continue the magic of Butter Beans Food & Garden Summer Camp at home with our 5 Ways to Grow Future Food Leaders.

As we do each day at camp, we’d like to thank the chefs, farmers, food innovators, gardeners, parents, families, and educators who bring our Food & Garden Summer Camp to life each year. And, above all, we say THANK YOU to the campers who motivate us each and every day to do better, think bigger, and laugh more.

You are an inspiration!

We’ll see you in the kitchen and garden next summer. Until then, happy cooking and bon appétit!

Written by Kelly McGlinchey, Director of Food Education

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Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program

Posted by on Jan 14, 2015 in agriculture, families, Food & Farm program, gardens, healthy food, healthy lifestyle, local food, news and happenings, nutrition, raising children, seasonal, sustainability, wellness | 0 comments

10435790_748823861843218_5593928974486830278_nA new approach to healthy weight loss has become very hot. One could even argue, downright “trendsetting.”

Prescribing fruits and vegetables has become a surprising new perspective on the traditional approach to medicine—pills. With the obesity epidemic on the rise, it is inevitable that now is the time for new solutions. 

An innovative non-profit organization called Wholesome Wave has created the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program, or for short, FVRx.

Rather than leaning on western medicine and supplements to combat weight issues, doctors now urge patients to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables—as prescribed. The program is currently underway at two New York Public hospitals—Harlem Hospital in Manhattan and Lincoln Medical Center in the Bronx. Through a two year 500,000 grant from the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, the hospitals were able to test the program on 550 children and their families. Later expanding to the Elmhurst hospital in Queens and Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, which offered the program to 650 more qualified participants.

The FVRx program includes Nutrition Education, healthy recipes, and something called ‘Health Bucks’. Participants who qualify for the program get tokens. New York and Boston residents get Health Bucks instead, similar to Food Stamps, but are only redeemable for produce at local farmer’s markets. 

Results have proven the program to be effective. After four months 40% of participating children lowered their B.M.I’s (fat composition in their body) and 90% of families had shopped at farmers markets weekly, or several times a month. 

6A 10-year-old girl, Alaijah who was significantly overweight lost 5 pounds in the first year of the program and 8 more pounds the second year just by snacking on fruits and vegetables. Her mother comments, “now Alaijah carries fruits or cut-up vegetables to school. She likes raw carrots, celery and broccoli.” 

This success story is not a stand-alone. Further results show that 97% of children and 96% of their families now ate more fruits and vegetables after being part of the FVRx.

This program touches on two very important factors: food availability and food sustainability. Not only does it provide fresh produce to poor areas—known as food deserts—but it also supports farmers and locally grown foods. The increase in purchases at farmer’s markets has resulted in a 37% increase in the average income for farmers. This has helped to increase their farmland in production and to invest more in farm operations.

Most importantly, implementing FVRx has provided an opportunity for children to interact with the farmers and ask questions, learning about how things are grown and what is in season. 

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campfire stories: celebrating autumn at Butter Beans Fall Harvest Camp

Posted by on Oct 14, 2014 in agriculture, cooking classes, cooking with kids, families, Food & Farm program, gardens, healthy food, local food, lunch time, nutrition, seasonal, seasonal food of the month, sustainability, wellness | 0 comments

Walking past the open doorway of a cozy classroom in Queens last week, one could smell delightful blends of cinnamon and nutmeg, curry and cumin, fresh basil, thyme, and sage. A brief peek inside the classroom door would reveal eight budding chefs expertly transforming raw vegetables into creative culinary delicacies – pumpkin curry, carrot-top pesto, rainbow fried rice, apple pie parfaits… dishes that capture the vibrant flavors of autumn.

This group of 6-10 year olds made up the talented crew of the inaugural Butter Beans Fall Harvest Camp at the United Nations International School (UNIS) of Queens. With culinary prowess, the Fall Harvest campers spent one week (October 6th-10th) caring for the school’s abundant garden and harvesting veggies for their home-cooked lunches.

Each day the group explored new ways of growing, cooking, and eating food in a way that nourishes our bodies, our communities, and the planet. We thought you might want a brief snapshot of what the week brought for our campers, so here are some of the highlights not soon to be forgotten by the campers or counselors of Butter Beans Fall Harvest Camp:

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Monday October 6th : Campers sowed seeds in recycled cartons and discovered how to “eat the rainbow” at mealtime, learning the nutritional merits of different colorful foods.

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Tuesday, October 7th: On a visit to the historic Queens County Farm Museum, campers took a hayride tour of the farm and picked pumpkins which they later used to make pumpkin butter – from scratch!

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Wednesday, October 8th: Campers collected seeds from the UNIS Queens garden to store for next year’s garden and spent an active, rejuvenating morning exercising with yoga instructor Ginger Merritt.

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Thursday, October 9th: Campers transplanted herbs from the garden beds to pots in the UNIS Queens greenhouse. With the help of guests from Home Depot’s Community Impact Program, campers also built their own planter boxes to take home!

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Friday, October 10th: To celebrate the last day of camp, campers took a trip to the Queens Botanical Garden where they explored “Plants We Eat” through QBG’s bee yard, herb garden, and edible garden beds.

In the kitchen and garden, Fall Harvest Campers discovered the fun of cooking with colorful foods, eating in season, using all the parts of the plant, growing food with sustainability in mind, and supporting our local food communities. We can’t wait to see what these brilliant food and garden experts cook up in the future!

Wishing all the members of the Butter Beans camp family a festive and flavor fall!

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let’s hear it for the moms in our life!

Posted by on May 7, 2014 in families, Food & Farm program, giving, healthy food, healthy lifestyle, home remedies, local food, news and happenings, raising children, seasonal, seasonal celebrations, wellness | 0 comments

photo (61)This weekend is a celebration of all the mothers out there.

A HUGE thank you goes out to you, and all that you do to make this world a better place!

Your love, dedication, strength, and laughter inspires, nurtures, and helps us grow into the best versions of ourselves.

To celebrate here is a list of fun food and wellness related gifts to consider, featuring our favorite camp partners:

  • Bring her to your local farmers market, and pick up some fresh seasonal flowers, herbs for an herb bouquet or windowsill garden, and ingredients to make a delectable spring meal together (pansies and marigolds for a mother’s day salad?)
  • Pick up some Essence of Vali essential oils made right here in NYC
  • You can never go wrong with Nunu Chocolates
  • Take her out to brunch at Egg 
  • What about a rooftop farm yoga class at sunset with Brooklyn Grange
  • She would love gluten/dairy free, certified organic, enzyme rich treats from Sweet By Jana
  • Book a cheese class with the Bedford Cheese Shop
  • Indulge in handcrafted Ample Hills ice cream, then have a picnic in Prospect Park
  • Get your fermentation and happy gut flora on with Mother In Law’s Kimchi
  • Enjoy Beth’s Farm Kitchen preserves for a homemade breakfast in bed

Whichever way you chose to celebrate the moms in your life, make it a memorable one!

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