Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Rec & Ed and The Farm at St. Joe's: a connection worth growing

Jenna Bacolor, Executive Director, Community Education and Recreation

Last week, Robin Schultz-Purves and I took a field trip to the Farm at St. Joe's. As our Green Adventure Camp (GAC) Coordinator, Robin is always looking for new experiences for campers. She was eager to check out the Farm as a possible GAC field trip destination.

The entrance to The Farm at St. Joe's
And why was I there? For one, I chair the AAPS Farm to School Collaborative and Wellness Policy Committee. For those committees, and for Green Adventures Camp, I'm always looking for new partners and possibilities. 

And okay, I'll just admit that I love visiting farms and local food facilities -- I spent many years prior to coming to Rec & Ed working in nutrition promotion and local food issues. 

Farmer Dan and Laura
Farmer Dan Bair and Laura Meisler
with sliding raised beds.
Farmer Dan Bair and Program Manager Laura Meisler showed us around the Farm's two hoop houses. Based on my drive-bys, I was expecting traditional hoop houses filled with season-extending crops. 

Yes, there was a beautiful hoop house full of plants you can't put into the ground outside until late May or early June. Dan grows crops to sell at a weekly farmers' market in the hospital and sources some into the cafeteria as well. 

When Dan mentioned that each summer he releases groups of beneficial insects inside the hoop house, Robin lit up. One of our new GAC camp themes, What's the Buzz, is all about insects and entomology. What better field trip could there be than a trip to The Farm to see good insects do their thing?

Note the state of Michigan
cut-outs on the sides!
Robin and I were also impressed by the barrier free hoop house, which allows people with disabilities to do all sorts of gardening. I immediately thought of our Adaptive Recreation programs for adults. Maybe we could collaborate to offer a class here!

The photo at the right shows one of the many creative gardening tools in the barrier-free hoop house. It's a rotating planter so that a person in a wheelchair, or someone who has trouble standing or squatting, can garden while sitting. 

There's something about being around growing things that helps ideas bloom. I'm looking forward to more dreaming and planning with The Farm at St. Joe's. 

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