The Seed to Table program has been a long-standing staple at The Patch started by Chef Kathy Cary in 1993, and now stands on its own as an extension of our year-round Seed to Table Program, emphasizing the environmental components of food growth, care, and prep. Starting with a visit to a local farm and ending with opportunities to cook, our kids learn that the full life cycle of our food starts way before it ever reaches our plate.
Kicking off this camp with an annual farm visit is “particularly valuable to our kids,” says camp leaders Jay and Liliara, because most of them grow up in the city. Going to the farm allows campers to see where fresh produce comes from before it ever hits a grocery store. They are taught how to select the best fruit right off the vine and they learn about our country’s food system, along with all the outdoor elements that make our food possible; including the things we often avoid, like dirt, mud, and bugs. The rest of the week is spent with detailed kitchen orientations followed by many hours of learning important kitchen skills. The staff teach the campers how to cook simple meals from scratch, hoping that these skills will transfer to their home kitchens.
In a world driven by technology, fast pace, and fast food, some may wonder how this camp is still relevant in 2023. The answer is simple: cooking is a core skill that everyone needs to survive. As The Patch strives to give youth a strong foundation for becoming successful adults, Green Chef Camp plants seeds for their lifelong nutritional well-being. It teaches them about making informed healthy choices; how to stay safe in risky spaces (like kitchens full of hot and sharp objects); how to follow procedures through recipes; collaboration with others; being open to trying new things; and serving/sharing with others. The program’s effectiveness is proven by kids like Jasmine*, who immediately put her new skills to use at home. She proudly told our staff, “We made the mini quiches at home last night after we did them here on Monday.” Following tradition, the camp week ended with an opportunity for all the campers to showcase their new skills; this year, they had a cookout in the courtyard for Patch kids and staff.
We are grateful for the dedicated supporters of The Cabbage Patch, whose contributions ensure that Green Chef continues to be more than just a camp, but a springboard for another generation of warm meals, healthy hearts, and full souls.
*Names changed to protect the privacy of those we serve.