The sources of food and the principles of agriculture have been all but erased from the average American child’s understanding of the world. Though food still comes from farms, for many children it seems to appear in stores as if by magic, wrapped in plastic and ready for consumption.
The Sylvia Center at Katchkie Farm connects children and teenagers with farms and food. Katchkie Farm is an organic vegetable farm in Kinderhook, New York. Visiting children experience a working farm in operation with over ten acres of cultivated land and 9,000 square feet of greenhouse space.
The Sylvia Center offers both one-time and series programs for schools, youth groups and the general public. Programs offered to schools are linked to New York State Common Core learning standards and provide culinary lessons and gardening activities and that are complementary and seasonal. Series programming is offered in local schools and youth centers for groups that would like to increase the impact of an on farm field trip.
This one day, four-hour experiential program, offered on the farm from May through October, introduces youth ages 4-18 years to seasonal cooking and gardening. Participants are engaged in every step of the story of food from farm to plate including planting seeds, meeting our farm animals and collecting fresh eggs, working in the garden, harvesting vegetables, and preparing a healthy meal. As they tour the farm and taste their way through the Children’s Garden, which is home to over 200 different varieties of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers; children learn where food comes from and how it grows. They taste many new foods for the first time, and gain an appreciation for fresh vegetables and the experience of trying new things. In our outdoor, open-air kitchen, students work with our Chef to learn age appropriate cooking skills and how to use whole foods to create delicious and healthy meals.
This series of 90-minute classes takes place weekly over a period of six weeks in a school or youth center setting. It is offered as a spring session (April – May) or fall session (October – November) and is suitable for children ages fourth grade and up. Program activities and recipes are scaled to be age appropriate. Each week students develop and build on their culinary skills and knowledge of healthy food as they prepare a simple dish or snack using seasonal ingredients. Students also learn about gardening and farming through small classroom-based projects such as seeding. Lesson topics include: Kitchen Safety and Knife Skills, Reading a Recipe, Cooking with Whole Foods, Eating in Season, Parts of the Plant We Eat, Learning to Bake, and Tasty Meat Alternatives. In addition to classroom lessons, all students take one trip to the farm to participate in the Fresh Food Comes from the Farm Program (see above).
Each growing season from May through October, The Sylvia Center at Katchkie Farm offers a 6-month educational internship for an individual with an interest in organic gardening, children’s health, food literacy, outdoor education, and the culinary arts. Designed for an individual with beginner level experience in these areas, the internship provides an opportunity to combine these related interests and learn to develop and lead garden-based education programs. In addition, the intern will gain valuable knowledge and experience in the areas of small-scale organic farming and livestock care, basic culinary technique and meal creation, and building community around food. At the end of the season, the intern will be prepared to pursue an entry-level job in the field of farm to table education.
For more information, please contact Julie Cerny at firstname.lastname@example.org or (518) 758-2170.