Summer Garden Camp Begins!

By: Grant Armour
Location: Middleton, WI

Happy July All! We at Growing Food and Sustainability hope you all have fun, safe and relaxing plans for the upcoming holiday weekend. Last week we had our first garden campers! We had 8 campers arrive for fun mornings on Tuesday and Wednesday with activities for our older campers (ages 10-14), from making spring rolls for snack with veggies harvested fresh from the garden and collecting compost by bike to learning about how toxins can get into our plants from the soil. Our younger group (5-10 years old) met Friday morning and learned about how and why we compost, planted squash and made safe space friendship bracelets which mark our ties to each other and remind both campers and farmers (our name for counselors) of the fact that our behavior has both intended and unintentional impacts on those that we share our lives with.

biketrailerOur Older Campers Picking Up Compost from Middleton Outreach Ministry

I had the pleasure of leading Friday’s camp with another intern. From the moment our campers arrived, we knew we would be having lots of fun. One of them ran from the car to where the other campers and the farmers were waiting and began hugging trees in the parking lot exclaiming “I love plants!”  It was fun to share the garden space with new people. I just started working with Growing Food and Sustainability (GFS) in May as a Summer Intern, but in a couple short months our space has changed radically. We have nearly completed a fence to keep out hungry rabbits. We have completed an irrigation system. We have planted and trellised beds along with maintaining them through lots of weeding. We have been mulching the pathways and mounding compost under our potatoes. We got to see the campers and their parents appreciate our space and the progress we have already made each in their own way.

DSCF1208Interns Building Gates for our Garden Fence

Last night I was reading a book and came across a quote by a personal hero, Henry David Thoreau. It read “We shall see but little way if we require to understand what we see. How few things can a man measure with the tape of his understanding! How many greater things might he be seeing in the meanwhile!” It really got me thinking. As an intern at GFS I felt that this was an especially relevant quote. As in all organizations, there is a division of labor. While some of us interns may be running our summer camp or building fences others are working to make the Middleton Farmer’s Market, (including our stand there) a better place with a greater attendance. I may understand how I have planned to build the fence but there are jobs done by my fellow interns that I do not understand the process of. It is good, though. While I must dedicate time, thought and energy to designing and building the fence, I am able to enjoy and see the hard work of my co-interns. Together we have accomplished quite a lot so far.

While I have come to understand more than I did at the beginning of this summer, I am coming to realize that I have seen so much more than that. The experiences I get working with GFS are just as valuable as the things I come to understand. Even just the experience of selling a few items at the Farmer’s Market helped to expand my horizons. I don’t need to know how something works to enjoy experiencing it when surrounded by such great people, in such great places.

1_4Author: Grant Armour is a student at UW-Madison studying Community and Environmental Sociology.  He works as a bike mechanic and is a summer intern with Growing Food and Sustainability.

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