Friday, August 21, 2015

Farm to Table Camp Closes with Big Foodie Projects

Thursday marked the final day of the 2015 Farm to Table Camp, and participants questioned at the end why we can't have this camp all the time! In the evaluations, youth remarked that they liked learning new recipes and all participants said they would be willing to re-create some of the camp recipes at home with their families. We call that a success! 

Day 3 started with canning peach jam. Participants had to first peel and chop the peaches, and then they were cooked on the stove. Each camper filled his/her own jar and then we processed them in a water bath for ten minutes so the lids would seal. 

FCS Agent Clare Lillard provided leadership for the canning project.

It was camp, after all, so there had to be games for the downtime.

Then it was time for chocolate squash bread. Remember how much the campers loved it the day before? So now they had a chance to make their own. Flour, sugar, chocolate, and the normal ingredients, plus several cups of grated yellow squash. It was delicious and each camper took home a mini loaf.

We stressed the importance of accurate measurements and talked about precision in baking versus creativity and wiggle room in other recipes.

Then it was time to make sausage. We started with a 15 lbs. Boston Butt graciously donated by Papa Weaver's Pork. All participants helped chop it into bite size pieces and then we seasoned it with 4-H Agent Kaci's great-grandmother's recipe. Of course, her recipe was for 50 lbs. of meat, and her recipe used ounces, so we did some math to convert to Tablespoons and only 15 lbs. of pork!

We learned that meat is a very different texture than the vegetables we had previously been chopping, so different knife techniques were needed.

After coating the meat pieces with a mixture of salt, sage, black pepper, and red pepper, it was time to grind -- first with the large screen and then a finer screen.

Then the youth cooked up a couple pounds and used it to make homemade pizzas for lunch. Additionally, each youth received fresh sausage to take home and prepare it how they liked.

The pizzas used a lot of "leftover" ingredients from earlier in the week. DIY pizzas are great for cleaning out the fridge!

Then it was time for thank you notes. There were so many families and local businesses who helped make this camp possible. Culpeper Cheese Company and Jeffery Mitchell gave us a great workshop about cheesemaking and let us sample several varieties. Jim and Terri Elgin of J-TEAM Dairy allowed us to visit their farm and see how milk is harvested. Vibeke Ober taught us how to make cheese straw snacks and gave us buckets of fresh herbs to cook with and experiment. The Madison Extension Office let us use their wonderful teaching kitchen since we do not have those facilities in Orange. Rodney Lillard of Mill Valley BBQ gave us a tour of his kitchen and provided delicious BBQ sandwiches to all. Kristin Rider and family of 5 Riders Farm on Twyman's Mill Road donated a huge bag of corn, tomatoes, zucchini, and super fresh eggs to use in our recipes, after a tour of their place. Tom and Tina Weaver of Papa Weaver's Pork donated the Boston Butt from which we made sausage.

Upon conclusion of the camp, youth were asked to evaluate the program. One participant said, "We learned we could experiment and not be scared." Another said, "we should have this every year!" All participants said their cooking skills improved because of the camp -- 38% said "a lot" and 62% said "some". All but one camper said they would repeat a recipe at home, and the chocolate squash bread seemed to be the crowd favorite. Of the knowledge gained, participants named bacteria, food safety, knife skills, and exposure to new recipes.