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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swiss chard slaw

Posted by on Jul 22, 2015 in after school, cooking classes, cooking with kids, families, healthy food, local food, nutrition, raising children, Recipes, summer camp | 0 comments

IMG_1462With so much summer produce growing at this time of year, Butter Beans campers have been busy transforming produce into spectacular dishes.

One dish that we wanted to highlight was our swiss chard slaw that was a big hit!

We recently received a glowing review of our camp experience from the viewpoint of a parent that we just had to share, “Lulu had a pretty good repertoire to begin with, but this class has definitely taught her to enjoy more foods outside her comfort zone, and this past weekend she made pesto and pasta almost on her own!”

IMG_8543Our campers summer cooking & gardening experiences show us all that children can adapt their palates to fresh and nutritious foods as long as they have the right ingredients: supportive and enthusiastic educators, a safe environment, experiential learning opportunities, encouraging parents, and a fun atmosphere all shared amongst their peers.

We highly recommend trying this recipe with your children at home. Put on some good music, aprons and have fun together cooking and trying new foods!

Prep Time: 10 minutes Total Time: 15 minutes
Serves 8


  • 1 bunch swiss chard, leaves
  • 1 small head red cabbage, or ½ head large cabbage
  • 2 pears
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 small orange, juiced
  • ¼ c olive oil
  • salt + pepper to taste
1. Slice swiss chard leaves into short, thin strips. Thinly slice cabbage and cut pear into short, thin matchstick pieces.
2. Combine chard, cabbage, carrot, and pear in large mixing bowl.
3. Mix orange juice with garlic, and olive oil. Season with salt + pepper, adjusted to your taste preference.
4. Toss dressing with veggies. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate.
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summer vegetable quesadillas

Posted by on Jul 28, 2014 in healthy food, local food, lunch time, Recipes, seasonal, summer camp, wellness | 0 comments

photoIt’s summertime, and while our campers have been inspiring us with their daily explorations of the summer bounty, their explorations have inspired us to make a summer vegetable quesadilla using the array of vegetables around!

Quesadillas are the perfect vehicle to use up the summer harvest. The possibilities are truly endless! You can use this recipe as a template for whatever summer vegetables you just picked up at the market.

Flexibility and fun is what summer is about, so let that shine through in your cooking!

Serves 4 Prep Time: 10 minutes Total Time: 20-22 minutes


  • 4 brown rice tortillas (you can also use corn tortillas)
  • 2 ears of corn, boiled and cooled
  • 1 head of beet greens, rinsed, chopped and steamed
  • 1/2 C scallions, chopped
  • 2 small zucchini, cut lengthwise, grilled and cooled
  • 1 small eggplant, cut lengthwise, grilled and cooled
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt, pepper
  • 1/2 C grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 lime
  • handful of cilantro


1. Prep & Cook: Preheat oven to 325 F. Shuck your corn, cook in boiling water for approximately 10 minutes, or until softened. Set aside. Once cooled, cut kernels off the cob.

Cut zucchini and eggplant lengthwise, add olive oil, salt and pepper and coat well. Place prepped zucchini and eggplant onto a grill (or sauté them in a pan), cook on each side for about 4-5 minutes, until softened. Remove and let cool.

Rinse the beet greens well. Add water to a pot, bring to a boil. Cut the stems and leaves. Add stems first, and let steam for 4 minutes, then add leaves and let steam for another 4 minutes.

Chop scallions, grate cheese, cut your lime in quarters, rinse and chop cilantro.

2. Assemble & Melt: Add toppings onto one tortilla (order of assembly suggestion: zucchini, eggplant, corn, beet greens, scallions, cheese, cilantro). Place tortillas into your preheated oven, and cook for about 4 minutes, until the cheese has melted. Place the other tortilla on top, press down well, and cut into quarters. Squeeze some fresh lime juice on top, and enjoy this creative summer delight!


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campfire stories: discovering an un-bee-lievable community

Posted by on Jul 25, 2014 in cooking with kids, gardens, healthy food, healthy lifestyle, local food, nutrition, seasonal, summer camp, sustainability, wellness | 0 comments


posing with our new friends at Harlem Grown!

It’s hard to know where to begin with a week as un-bee-lievable as this third week at Butter Beans Food + Garden Summer Camp. Each day left our counselors inspired, our campers smiling broadly, and camp headquarters abuzz with laughter.

Campers delved into Pollinator Week here at Butter Beans with a visit to the “Broadway Bees” at the Residence Inn by Marriott at Central Park hotel (thus the string of bee puns throughout this post). The Broadway Bees live in their hives atop the hotel’s roof on the 67th floor. At 723 feet, this Marriott Residence Inn is the tallest hotel in the Western Hemisphere! We couldn’t beelieve the view of Central Park as we learned about the bees from Bee Bold Apiaries beekeeper Joe. To top off the day, campers enjoyed a delightful treat of cookies and local milk from the generous hotel team.


woah! that’s a big piece of cookie dough

Two days later campers were in for another sweet treat from our friends at Birdbath Bakery. These budding chefs worked with the Birdbath baker to roll out chocolate cookie dough from the biggest ball of dough any of us had ever seen. After learning about the community that supports this friendly bakery, campers gobbled up their homemade delights and headed to Bedford Cheese Shop to churn their own butter. Is there anything these campers can’t do?

Thursday was a day of inspiration, good food, sharing, and community. Harlem Grown, a non-profit organization that supports a network of neighborhood farms, developed its first summer camp program this year. Naturally we here at Butter Beans were buzzing with excitement when we learned this and a food + garden summer camp summit of sorts was arranged. Our campers took a trip to the Harlem Grown garden yesterday to kick off this camp exchange (the Harlem Grown campers and counselors will visit us next week). The Harlem Grown campers were wonderful hosts –teaching us about their compost system, explaining which veggies were ripe and how to pick them, even sending each Butter Beans camper home with a bag of basil.

all smiles harvesting kale!

all smiles harvesting kale!

Today, back at camp headquarters we enjoyed a mouth-watering Family Friday Potluck meal of spring rolls using the abundance of veggies that Harlem Grown sent us home with. We are so excited to host our new friends next week for lunch at camp headquarters!

Before each meal together at camp, our campers and counselors give thanks to the farmers and the chefs who helped make their food possible. It is with mindfulness of our food and gratitude for the inspiring individuals who grow it that we can build a healthy food system – one that supports nourished bodies, an ecologically-sound environment, and a positive community.

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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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campfire stories: cooking up a rainbow

Posted by on Jul 11, 2014 in cooking classes, cooking with kids, gardens, healthy food, healthy lifestyle, local food, nutrition, summer camp, sustainability, wellness | 0 comments

Harvesting herbs from a rooftop garden, digging for composting worms, cooking colorful and seasonal lunches, shopping at the local farmers market… Welcome to a day in the life of a camper at Butter Beans Food & Garden Summer Camp!


Butter Beans campers whipped up a quinoa tabbouleh salad!

This week marked the launch of our 4th annual Food & Garden Summer Camp, and our campers have certainly enjoyed an adventure-filled first week. Each day we explored what it means to eat a rainbow of foods, from cooking a vibrantly pink beet pesto spaghetti, to learning about a rainbow of nutrients at SweetGreen restaurant, to a farmers market scavenger hunt in search of fruits and vegetables across the color spectrum.

On Monday campers sampled chocolates at Li-Lac Chocolates, the oldest chocolate house in Manhattan, and even got to take some home! The next day we visited SweetGreen restaurant where our gracious hosts not only taught campers about eating the rainbow but also sent everyone home with a colorful salad of their own creation. Campers ventured to the beautiful New York Botanical Garden for a visit to the Family Garden on Wednesday, each returning with a basil plant to care for this summer. And yesterday, these 6-10 year olds got their hands dirty weeding and digging for composting worms at the Battery Urban Farm.


Practicing meditation and mindfulness with Jessica

Amidst a busy schedule, we still found time for pause at our weekly yoga session in the park with instructor Ginger Merritt and during a special visit from mindfulness coach Jessica Li Phillips.

After creating and eating a colorful lunch of rainbow stir-fried rice on Tuesday, Jessica asked our campers about the importance of cooking with a thoughtful, positive attitude.

One of our six-year old campers shot up his hand and responded:

“When the love and the happy thoughts go into our food, we get the love and the happy thoughts – and it makes us look on the bright side!”

Thanks to our campers, guests, counselors, and partners in the field for an inspiring first week!

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