Thursday, June 20, 2013

Summer Time means Farm Camp for Kids!

This Chicken has no Nuggets!

Summer Time means Summer Camp, but these days, camp can mean so many different things. In our fast paced world, Children are often suffering from what is termed "Nature Deficit Disorder" In 2005 book, Last Child in the Wood: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, author Richard Louv argues that human beings, and children in particular are spending less time outdoors. With recent trends of only 2% of the American Public growing food for the other 95%, we know very few children in the United States are involved in farming. These statistics and theory, in my never to be humble opinion add up to a childhood obesity rate that has doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Currently, more than one third of American children under the age of 18 are overweight and obese. There are of course, many compelling reasons for this terrible statistic, but I feel a major contributor to this epidemic is the fact that children are not outside running, working and playing, and they have no idea where their food comes from or what real food tastes like. 

Connolly Ranch in Napa California has a unique program which is a symptom but also a cure for all that is wrong with our modern food system. This beautiful seven acre Ranch is nestled in oak and redwood forest in western Napa. It is right next to beautiful Westwood Hills Park, and shows what Napa looked like before all the houses and vineyards arrived.

Owned by the Connolly family for years, the land was given to the Napa Land Trust literally weeks before the last owner died, bequesting it for public and educational use. The land is in the lush fertile Napa Valley, and was a multi use farm, with animals and crops. So much prime farmland in this area is being lost to development or the monoculture wine industry, Connolly was key to marinating Napa's true valuable landscape which provides food. The Napa Land Trust not only preserved productive farmland, but has also created a learning center so children can have opportunities to witness and participate in all aspects of farming. From seed to table, from mucking barns, to milking and collecting eggs, harvesting and cooking, children learn all aspects of where their food comes from. They even have mommy and me programs for preschoolers. I attended a family fun day where the public is invited to see the workings of the center, ask questions and basically have a great time in the delicious Summer air.

Now that is SOME PIG!

That such institutions exist shows how separated we are from our food sources, but thank Goodness Connolly provides such a valuable service. By connecting children with the land and animals that feed them, Connolly is part of shaping our next generation to be healthy and respectful towards the resources that nourish them. As their mission statement proclaims: This mission of Connolly Ranch is to connect kids with nature through farm based environmental education programs in Napa Valley, CA.

 Edible Gardens and Raised Garden Beds Grow Food for Farm Camp Cooking Classes

Compost Learning Center

City Kid meets Duck

Check it out if you are in the area, while you are out wine tasting, your children can learn all about how good, healthy and delicious food is raised.

Napa Land Trust Founding Member Harold Kelly, 
He Secured the Land for Connolly Ranch Learning Center

Education Director Michael Lauher

Norman, the official greeter at Connolly Ranch LOVES to strut his stuff

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