By Damion Smalls
North Charleston’s resident urban farm and grocery store Fresh Future Farm has just successfully completed its first round of youth farm camps, with additional courses taking place July 4-6 and July 25-27. The camp incorporates science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) education throughout its three days of activities with interactive outdoor projects.
North Charleston Parks & Recreation collaborated with the farm to allow kids from the Gussie Greene Community Center to participate, along with an online fundraiser that sponsored over twenty campers.
Grits, eggs and fresh salsa were among the highlights of the first day of camp. Chef BJ Dennis was on hand to impart his expertise of the okra plant and its culinary capabilities on day two. Campers once again put on their cooking skills to test as they made the Gullah Geechee menu staple okra soup. Kate Latsbaugh of Cities + Shovels led the educational segments of the sessions as the kids were read stories, utilized maps to locate the origins of foods such as yeast and logged journal entries charting their efforts. Farm manager LaToya Clement aided to guide the young group through their various stations by keeping them on task and fascinated with the themes of the days.
The farm camp’s third day was dubbed ‘Pizza Day’. The highly anticipated finale saw the children learn more about the popular Italian dish, such as its connection to Egypt. Campers picked their own basil, designed personal pizzas with other ingredients grown on the farm, helped concoct a mix of lavender lemonade and planted a pizza garden with Fresh Future Farm founder Germaine Jenkins. EVO Pizzeria co-founder Matt McIntosh broke in the farm’s new outdoor wood fire oven, which finished the pizzas within two minutes as temperatures pushed past 850 degrees inside. The signature taste of EVO (Extra Virgin Oven) delighted participants as the eatery is consistently regarded as Charleston’s premier destination for pizza.
“Forty years ago, a trip to a neighborhood community garden changed my outlook on life and vegetables. I was determined that our neighbors would be the first to experience this hands-on camp.” says Jenkins. The cost per camper is $175 ($3 for residents of the Chicora-Cherokee area).
All campers left the grounds with a send-off bag full of ingredients coupled with recipes to demonstrate at home what they grasped in their three days on the farm. Exposing the community’s youth to farm life, expanding their culinary knowledge and promoting cooperation among each other were key goals achieved in this first attempt of summer camp the neighborhood business.
Those interested in signing children ages 5-14 for the July 25-27 summer camp can register in person at the Fresh Future Farm grocery store, located at 2008 Success St. The store is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 7 pm. Camp sessions will be held from 8:00 am to 10:30 am each day.
Jenkins is welcoming the community to become involved by sponsoring campers’ tuition. $175 for one camper; three for $575 and ten for $1,750. For more information, visit freshfuturefarm.org or call 843-804-9091.