GTI’s Farm Manager & Board Member TEAM UP to teach local youth!

(This article was written by SAMI WAIGHT and published online with The Register-Mail on 8/7/13. Go to this link to read it at the newspaper’s website: click here)

A group of youth this week is learning about growing and preparing local food through Knox College’s camp, “Farm to Fork.”

This is the second session of the camp, which also was held in July, and is operated by Peter Schwartzman, associate professor and chair of environmental studies at Knox, and Matt Wallen, manager of Growing Together, an urban agriculture educational center in Galesburg.

The camp is funded by a Specialty Crop Grant from the Illinois Department of Agriculture to Knox County and the Galesburg Regional Economic Development Agency.

“It’s great,” said Isaiah Hill, 12, of Galesburg. “You get to learn about gardening, and you’re making friends.”

The camp includes both classroom instruction and field trips to local farms. A lunch is included on the Knox campus at no additional charge. The camp is held daily, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The campers are able to experience what it is like to grow a garden, and their lunches come from the produce they grow and harvest during the week.“The food is all locally grown,” said Rebecca Sundell, 12, of Galesburg.

Kale, tomatoes, okra and potatoes are just a small taste of the local foods the students experience. “I like that I get to plant,” said Hattie Kellett, 12, of Galesburg. “We don’t have a garden at home.”

The students have access to a farm owned by Knox College, as well as the college’s greenhouse. “I learned that a lot of people don’t really respect nature,” said Kellett. “That’s why this program was created. A lot of food (is) grown and it’s really good.”

The camp also teaches the harm and benefits of insects and plants. “Weeds aren’t necessarily bad, because bugs will eat the weeds more,” said Sundell.

The importance of composting was also emphasized. “We have compost,” said Mason Martinez, 11, of Galesburg. “You can take paper, banana peels and cardboard and take feed to red wigglers (worms). They make good soil.”

Schwartzman addressed the benefits of growing local food. “If you buy local food, you support local people,” he said. “You support local economy.” Kellett says she wishes more people would recognize the positive impact of growing and buying local food. “I wish they knew how much healthier it was instead of food from the store,” she said.