We just wrapped up summer camps at the Newburgh Summer Playground Camp which takes place at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center, and the Boys & Girls Club of Newburgh summer programming. There were 6 weeks of summer camp that taught the kids how to grow veggies from seed to harvest and prepare simple snacks with the veggies they grew. The first half of the season was devoted to gardening skills such as planting seeds, watering plants, harvesting ripe vegetables, and caring for a vegetable garden that we use to grow food. The second half was focused on preparing simple recipes with fresh-from-the-garden ingredients. We prepared fresh kale smoothies, cucumber pickles, and tomato salsa using produce grown from our own gardens. Making garden salsa was the kids’ favorite - Get the recipe here!
Each week we’ve taught at the free summer meals program at the Newburgh library. We’ve given more than 350 people samples of healthy snacks made with fresh veggies, recipe cards to make the snack themselves, and fresh garden produce to take home. The friendly community spirit of this program has been a highlight of summer!
Some of our staff and interns volunteered to serve lunch at St. Patrick’s Church Soup Kitchen in Newburgh, where we have been donating the harvests from Newburgh school gardens for the last two growing seasons. The meal featured 10 pounds of garden-fresh, organic cucumbers that we harvested from the Horizons school garden and served as a cucumber salad! It was great to connect to the local community and witness how the vegetables grown in our school gardens can make a difference towards eradicating hunger in our community.
On a stormy evening, we had a great time cooking and eating ratatouille made from fresh veggies grown in our gardens at the Newburgh Film Festival’s showing of Ratatouille. Read Anya’s story below of how the veggies ended up in the firehouse!
-Sam Adels, HVS Newburgh Garden Educator and Community Outreach Coordinator
Ratatouille at the Firehouse
a shared pot
of locally-grown vegetable stew at the center of the gathering
One of my favorite moments this summer was during the Newburgh Film Festival’s showing of “Ratatouille.” I had spent the day leading up to the film prepping ratatouille with vegetables grown in Hudson Valley Seed gardens for the kids to try. Unfortunately, rain was in the forecast and the film had to be moved indoors to the Newburgh Firehouse. The firemen helped to set up the movie equipment and greeted the kids between taking calls for structure and electrical fires caused by the evening’s storm. A handful of kids helped us to prepare fresh zucchini, eggplant, and green pepper to add to the ratatouille. They loved having the task of chopping vegetables, but had little initial interest in trying the ratatouille I had prepared. Further into the evening a young girl asked, “I wonder what this tastes like raw,” pointing to a chunk of zucchini. I asked her if she wanted to try it and she was uninterested. I asked her if she wanted to taste it cooked instead, and she shrugged her shoulders. I handed her a plate of the cooked ratatouille and she liked it. This influenced her younger sister and other children to try the dish as well. Not everybody liked it, but they all wanted to try it. This was impressive being that the ratatouille was set up right beside the cotton candy and popcorn machines. The children all gathered with their families, neighbors, and firemen to watch the film, sharing chairs and blankets, and everyone left having tasted new veggies, with a shared pot of locally-grown vegetable stew at the center of the gathering. The entire night strongly resonated with me and left me with a firm sense of the community that Hudson Valley Seed fosters.
-Anya Ptacek, HVS Intern