DIY earth-friendly recipe for sowing seeds

Posted by on Sep 11, 2015 in families, Food for thought, gardens, healthy lifestyle, home remedies, local food, summer camp, Valentine's Day, pink lemonade, cranberries, recipes, wellness | 0 comments

During each camp session at Butter Beans Food & Garden Summer Camp, our budding chefs & gardeners bring in repurposed planters that would otherwise end up in the recycling bin or landfill. Campers fill their makeshift pots with soil, sow a seed with care, and water gently. They care for their plant throughout camp, lighting up with excitement when the first sprout peeks above the soil.

At the end of the camp session, the kids head home with their new plants to continue their gardening duties. Those campers who join us for multiple sessions teach new campers the art of planting, and are always thrilled to create another earth-friendly planter.

One of our campers (and future celebrity chef) Aidan was with us for five weeks of Food & Garden Summer Camp 2015 and became an expert in sowing seeds. This morning he asked mom to send us an update on his windowsill garden and boy, were we excited to open that e-mail! Check out this creative garden. Shout out to camper Aidan on his green thumb!

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As our campers have shown us, you can grow a garden wherever you are, no matter the time of year, with a little bit of creativity and a lot of heart. Read on and get growing.

DIY earth-friendly recipe for sowing seeds:

  • 1 recycled container
  • Soil/compost mix
  • 2 seeds
  • Water
  • Sunshine
  • Love & Care

Directions: Cut your recycled container (e.g. milk carton or plastic bottle) in half. Add enough soil/compost mix to fill the container. Dig a small well with your thumb in the soil, then add 2 seeds.* Cover the seeds lightly with soil. Water, and place the pot in a sunny spot and watch your seeds grow!

*If both seeds sprout, remove one so that the other can grow big and strong. If you remove it carefully, you can try replanting it in another container. Leftover egg cartons are also great for sprouting seeds.

Written by Kelly McGlinchey, Director of Food Education

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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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whole food explorers

Posted by on Jun 5, 2015 in after school, cooking classes, cooking with kids, exercise, families, healthy food, healthy lifestyle, local food, news and happenings, nutrition, raising children, Recipes, seasonal, seasonal food of the month, wellness | 0 comments

IMG_2754This past week we had the pleasure of hosting a kids food exploration class at Whole Foods – Upper West Side in celebration of National Fruits & Vegetables Month.

Our class consisted of a melange of using our 5 senses to experience these new and unusual foods, along with stretching our bodies as we learned about the important nutrients present in these delicacies.

We were truly impressed at not only the turnout that we received, but also how enthusiastic and open minded our food explorers were!

On the menu we explored these tasty recipes:

  • ramp butter
  • pickled and blanched fiddlehead ferns
  • santa claus melon & basil soup

Our brave food explorers mixed together freshly chopped ramps, lemon juice, salt & pepper, and whipped it all up into a delectable spread for their fresh pieces of bread. Boy, was that butter a favorite!


FullSizeRender-2Then they ventured onto the fiddlehead ferns, unfurling their leaves and learning that they can grow 6 feet tall! Tasting it blanched, then pickled our explorers shared their observations of the different preparations on their food explorer handouts. 

Lastly, we ended our food adventures with a chilled melon basil soup made from santa claus melon – named that way since it’s usually the go-to melon available during christmas time. They couldn’t get enough! 

We are ever grateful for our friends at Whole Foods UWS for inviting us to excite and expand the palates of our participants in celebration of National Fresh Fruits & Vegetables Month!

Stay tuned for more food adventures to come!

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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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happy new year rainbow kimchi

Posted by on Jan 6, 2015 in after school, cooking with kids, healthy food, healthy lifestyle, nutrition, Recipes, seasonal, wellness | 0 comments

23219340_22f1ba951d_zAfter all of the rich foods we might have enjoyed over the holiday season, a refreshing rainbow kimchi recipe sounds like the perfect way to start off the New Year fresh, and feeling good.

Our lucky cooking class chefs got to make this recipe at the start of their winter session. Not only did they learn that fermented foods are packed with probiotics that benefit our digestion and gut health, but they also learned that colorful foods contain various vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to flourish.

Isn’t it fun to eat like the rainbow? Enjoying colorful foods sets the stage for good health, along with the added benefit of feast for your eyes!

Let’s dive into a healthy and happy new year!

Rainbow Kimchi

Prep Time: 10 minutes Total Time: 10 minutes 

Makes 2-4 16oz jam jars worth

Ingredients: 

  • 1 small red cabbage
  • ¼ salt
  • 1 C cold water
  • 2 t apple cider or white vinegar
  • 1 T fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 green onion
  • 2 carrots (1 orange, 1 yellow)
  • 1 small head purple cauliflower
  • 1 red beet

Directions: 

1. Prep cabbage: Slice red cabbage into 2 inch strips. Place in a bowl. Add salt and massage to soften. Add water in small increments, massage, then set aside.

2. Prep other veggies: Chop green onion, cauliflower, garlic, ginger into small pieces. Grate carrots and beet, or slice them finely. Place in a bowl. Add vinegar to the veggie mix, and toss well.

3. Drain: Using a colander, drain the cabbage brine, and rinse the cabbage. Add cabbage to the veggie bowl, and mix well.

4. Jar: Place kimchi into a jam jar, seal your jar tightly. Eat within a week, and enjoy!

Photo courtesy of Craig Nagy

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