“We need to get back to the way things used to be” is a phrase commonly thrown around these days. Ian and Sumer, FoodCorps service members, are taking a step back in time and are working in a “pioneer style” garden this summer at Rock Eagle 4H center. The Rock Eagle garden is made to be historically accurate to the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, from its cabins and outhouse to its heirloom plants. “It’s so refreshing to be out in this garden! It’s like taking a step back in time!” says Ian.
Ian and Sumer help teach a “garden exploration” class for campers twice a day. Campers take a hike into the woods and cross a bridge over Rock Eagle Lake to see turtles, fish, and Great Blue Herons. Then, they play a game of plant succession rock-paper-scissors to represent the competition plants constantly have over space. Campers explore the garden and learn what plants need in order to grow, and discuss what humans do in a garden to make it the ideal growing space for plants. After taking a stroll through a bamboo forest, campers find their inner “zen” by going through a series of different yoga poses that represent the process of germination. Campers end by sifting soil and planting their own seed to take home to start their very own garden!
When they aren’t teaching, Ian and Sumer manage the garden by pulling weeds, trellising cucumbers, and harvesting. Harvests from the garden go directly to the camp’s nutrition staff. They prepare it to be served in the dining hall (usually that same day!) to campers and staff for lunch and dinner. It doesn’t get much fresher than that!