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:
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!