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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campfire stories: digging in the dirt

Posted by on Jul 18, 2014 in cooking with kids, food waste, gardens, summer camp, sustainability, wellness | 0 comments

Perusing the rooftop grown veggies at Eagle Street Farm

Perusing the rooftop grown veggies at Eagle Street Farm

Each time we cook here at camp the food scraps from our meal are composted at the nearby Union Square Farmers Market. (That’s of course after campers explore ways of using typically unused food parts- like sautéing beet stems for a taco topping or shredding up leftover zucchini for sweet chocolate chip cookies).

We try to reduce food waste as much as possible but for any compostable food scraps that remain, there are some wriggly creatures that will eat it up. Campers met some composting worms at Eagle Street Rooftop Farm in Brooklyn on Thursday, as well as a friendly flock of chickens. The next day at the farmers market, team members from the Lower East Side Ecology Center talked to Butter Beans campers about how NYC composting works at the greenmarkets, and got to hold some red wiggler worms. What a perfect way to end “worm week” here at camp!

While the rain kept us inside on Tuesday, it certainly did not dampen the fun. Campers spent a relaxing afternoon creating and enjoying the benefits of food-based facial masks, and a brown sugar hand scrub. The next day they spent a sunny afternoon in the park before enjoying some delicious samples of goat milk frozen yogurt at Victory Garden NYC.

enjoying homemade pizza during our family friday potluck!

Enjoying homemade pizza during our family friday potluck!

Both were well-earned treats given the amazing work these campers have put into the kitchen this week. From Sri Lankan coconut curry and roti, to hand-rolled sushi, to market fresh pizza – these little chefs have been busy bees!

Speaking of bees, next week we’re kicking off session 2 of Butter Beans Food & Garden Camp with a visit to the “Broadway Bees” at the Marriott Residence Inn at Central Park. Worm Week has come to a close, and Pollinator Week is about to begin!

Stay tuned for more campfire stories next week…

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sustainability at Butter Beans

Posted by on Jan 17, 2014 in after school, cooking classes, families, food waste, gardens, local food, lunch time, seasonal, summer camp | 0 comments

3384297473_7a5f8e7933This school year has been a green one for us!

We have been collaborating with some of our schools to help grow their sustainability initiatives.

We have helped set up a composting program at one of our schools, and we are in the process of supporting two of our schools in their quest to to create vegetable gardens in a greenhouse and raised beds, along with connecting the garden to their curriculum.

From a food service perspective, how fun would it be for those locally grown, student cared for vegetables/herbs to be included in our lunch service? “A little fresh basil on your pasta, or thyme on your beef stew?”

Not only are we supporting our schools’ sustainability initiatives, we are also making headway of our own:

  • composting all of our food scraps in our commissary kitchen
  • working with schools to ensure that they have dishwashing capabilities so that all kitchen equipment and small wares can be reusable
  • providing schools with compostable small wares if dishwashing is not available
  • sourcing our meat, produce, and dairy products as local as possible
  • educating our school lunch students, cooking class chefs, and summer campers all about the journey of food from seed to plate

And much more to come!

Photo courtesy of

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reading list

Posted by on Mar 1, 2013 in agriculture, calories, cooking with kids, families, fast food, food politics, food waste, gardens, healthy food, healthy lifestyle, local food, nutrition, Recipes, school food, wellness | 2 comments

5854949486_c609ecd2eeThe food revolution of our time has been well underway, and with the proliferation of food information many insightful books have bloomed.

We are here to share with you some of our staff favorites, hoping that our list may inspire a food revolution in you, or in your community.

What food related books have inspired you?
Photo courtesy of whitneyinchicago
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urban composting

Posted by on Jan 9, 2013 in agriculture, families, Food & Farm program, Food for thought, food waste, gardens, healthy lifestyle, summer camp, wellness | 0 comments

photo-1What image comes to mind when you think of composting?

For many of you, composting goes hand in hand with open spaces, farms, and backyards.

So what about those folks living in urban settings, where backyards are virtually non-existant and open spaces are confined to city parks and stretches of concrete? Are they compost-exempt?

A recent article in the New York Times graciously lists some city friendly composting devices that will help connect urban dwellers with newfound composting routines, as they make strides in reducing their food waste.

A quick summary:

  • Blanco, a sleek bin embedded into your kitchen counter
  • NatureMill, “compost made easy”
  • Worm Factory 360, if you are comfortable with worms in your apartment, this ones for you!
  • Envirocycle Mini, if you do have access to outdoor space, this could be a great option
  • Vokashi, a compost pick up and drop off service


Check out our food & garden summer camp where we collaborate with master-composters to teach our campers the fundamentals of composting.

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Friday food quote

Posted by on Dec 14, 2012 in cooking with kids, families, Food for thought, food waste, healthy food, healthy lifestyle, raising children, seasonal celebrations, wellness | 0 comments

family together twill close upThe weekend is coming up, leaving more time to spend cooking up delicious meals with your friends and family.

While you are cooking, keep in mind ways that you can reduce food waste in your kitchen, and take pride in knowing that you are connecting your family and friends through food. Sitting down at the table together is a humbling and healthy practice that we should all embrace and take part in.

Laurie David, the author of “The Family Dinner” invites us all to think about dinner-time as an opportunity to reflect on our environmental footprint as home chefs, “Dinner time is perfect to practice and talk about green, sustainable issues with your kids. You know what, I’m going to stop using so much plastic wrap. Or, I’m going to try this composting thing. Cause you know why, it’s so much fun and so rewarding to not throw stuff in the garbage…”

Feel free to share your tips on how to reduce food waste in your kitchen space, as well as any stories that light you up when you think about a shared dining experience you’ve had recently. Happy cooking!

Photo courtesy of

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