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Meet Flora, the voice behind the blog

16 Dec

headshot2After all of this time, we thought we would introduce you to Flora, our blog writer.

Read our interview with her to learn more about the voice behind the Butter Beans blog.

What is your role within Butter Beans?

I am the Director of Community and Nutrition, which entails liaising with our students, parents, and faculty, ensuring that they are heard and are happy with our program. I oversee the nutritional balance of our menus while also making sure that the food choices are exciting and interesting for the children who participate in our programs. I engage with our community through various outlets, support our schools on their sustainability and greening initiatives, and manage our social media, blog (yay!), and newsletter content. I also support Butter Beans marketing initiatives, and create programming for our food & garden summer camp.

How long have you been with Butter Beans?

I have been working for Butter Beans for 4 years! I started as an intern writing lesson plans and assisting with our food education classes, then I grew into a part-time position as a Food Service Supervisor and taught a few cooking classes. I then grew into a full-time position as a Food Service Supervisor at a new school, while also taking on the role of Food Operations Manager. From there I grew into the School Community Liaison role, and now into my current position. Lots of growth, can you tell why I love my job?

5314344693_2ceda69029Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in New York City, with an Italian mother, and father from Queens, NY, whose parents moved to the United States from Belgium and Poland during WWII. My mothers’ family lived in Italy, so we would travel there to see them during school breaks. We would stay at my mothers’ home in a small town, where we grew our own vegetables, raised chickens, and cooked pizza in a brick oven. We also spent time on Long Island, where we also grew vegetables, and learned more about the natural world, and did a lot of fishing. Now, I have come to see how these childhood experiences have made a significant impact on my career, and life choices, and am ever grateful for it all.

How did you come to be the curator of the Butter Beans blog?

I had been working closely with Felicia, our VP + Co-Founder, who created and managed our blog, and founded our cooking classes and summer camp. After a while she asked me to write draft blog posts for her. A bunch of drafts and edits later, I was given the opportunity to take over the blog and create content on my own. It’s been a really fun adventure!

What inspires your content choices?

I know what it’s like to be a busy professional, juggling a million things at once. Which is why I choose to share quick, family friendly recipes that use good, seasonal ingredients, with easy instructions for all to follow.

What do you hope your readers will get from the Butter Beans blog?

I’d love for our readers to come away inspired to create healthy meals at home with their loved ones. I’d also love for them to feel invigorated by the way that food connects us all, and feel enriched by the knowledge that food can be medicine, which is why I like to include nutritional information into my posts.

What’s coming up for the Butter Beans blog?

We are looking into connecting our blog to our website, and changing the template to something more fresh and fun. We also want to start including more cooking class recipes, and recipes from our commissary kitchen that we know our students love. Maybe someday even create a cookbook!

Where can people go to learn more about children’s wellbeing and nutrition?

On our website we have a section called resources & links – there you will find some goodies. Also, find us on facebook, and look at our “likes” along with our twitter “followers” to engage with other like minded folks. There is so much goodness happening in the name of children’s wellbeing and nutrition!

Thank you all for reading; I can’t wait to continue sharing with you all!

Cheers,
Flora

Photo courtesy of living off grid

Thank you!

19 Aug

3qNfPt0rJP3RKzc50poFB_F7PeNYaweSJOvp49tJcHg (1)A big thank you goes out to all of our families that participated this summer in our food & garden summer camp!

From beekeeping, chocolate tasting, watering, composting, cheese making, cooking, gardening, farmers market shopping, yoga practicing, playing, chicken holding, jam making, urban farming, ice cream tasting and kimchi making, our campers had the time of their life!

Our favorite quote of this summer was from a mom who posted on our facebook page. Her quote sums up the impact that our camp has on our campers, hopefully for years to come!

“My son tells us this has been the best six weeks of camp he’s ever had. He’ll be sad when camp ends today! He has loved the counselors, the cooking, the gardening and the fantastic field trips. Butter Beans has been a truly enriching experience for him. At home we’ve been amazed to hear about what he’s done each day. We so enjoy reaping the benefits of his supercharged love of cooking and his real awareness of what good healthy food is and where it comes from. Best of all, he’s really absorbed what it means to be eco-conscious! Wow!”

Here’s to next summer, filled with food, gardening and fun!

summer camp fun – week 5!

9 Aug

pcyZLPP30iv7yT_G0jO75yyqEHjifw6_TJkyJwAej_kWe kicked off our third and final session of the summer with eleven new campers this week! Despite the threat of rain on several occasions, our team of Butter Beans purple + yellow managed to stay dry, eat well, and learn a ton of exciting new things!

After a short introduction, our campers traveled to the South Brooklyn Children’s Garden for an afternoon of hands on activities. It was great to be at a garden designed for kids, and the campers felt right at home among the plants. We spent some time bonding in the playground before heading back to wrap up our first afternoon.

photo11On Tuesday our campers had their first full day in the kitchen! After planting our own seeds, everyone was hungry for a Lasagna Cupcake lunch! Served with homemade garlic bread and salad, it was like being in Little Italy! To celebrate the perfect August day, we spent the afternoon outdoors enjoying the sunshine.

Wednesday brought gloomy skies, and rather than risk being stuck in the rain we decided to hang back at camp and do some more cooking! We traveled to the Union Square Farmers Market in the morning, and returned to camp to make a wholesome lunch of Tomato Soup and Panzanella Salad. We used our leftover garlic bread from the day before, which added great flavor and helped us clean out the fridge. After lunch, we ventured to Brooklyn for a visit at NuNu Chocolates. We learned about how chocolate was actually used as currency in the olden days, and we each got to dip our own graham crackers in the melted goodness. Yum!

IMG_7139We love to make ice cream at camp, and on Thursday we visited Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Co. to learn about non-dairy ice cream from the pros. We made healthy sundaes with banana, strawberry, and mango ‘ice cream’, which was a great way to fuel up for our next adventure to East New York Farms. They are experts at bee keeping, and at the farm we got to taste honey straight from the hive, try on some bee suits, and learn about the art of keeping bees in the city. The honey was fresh and sweet, and everyone walked away with a little more appreciation for our black and white stripped friends.

3qNfPt0rJP3RKzc50poFB_F7PeNYaweSJOvp49tJcHgFriday brought another edition of Top Chef! This week, our campers worked together to make a Taco Fiesta, including homemade guacamole, salsa, and tortillas! These definitely weren’t your average tacos. Following lunch, Ingrid was back for another afternoon of yoga. It was a nice way to relax on such a dreary day, and a great way to welcome the weekend. We finished off the afternoon with a special dessert and movie.

It’s hard to believe that next week will be the last week of the summer! After months of anticipation and planning, it seems like the end came much too quickly. I couldn’t ask for a better group of campers to help close out the summer, and I am looking forward to a final week packed with food, farming, and fun!

summer camp fun – week 4!

2 Aug

It’s hard to believe that the second session of camp is already coming to an end!

Although it seems like the summer just started, we are about to say goodbye to our second session of campers. We’ve had a full house these past two weeks, filled with nutritious and delicious meals, dirt under our fingernails fun, and special guest visitors!

972303_554881394570800_400131587_nMonday, our fearless group travelled to Randall’s Island for a day at the Urban Farm and Children’s Garden. It was a beautiful day to be outside, explore the gardens, make some tzatziki with fresh vegetables, and hold the chickens!

On Tuesday, the campers got back to basics in the morning with homemade cornbread muffins and fresh butter. The homemade butter was especially delicious, and came in handy later in the week. In the afternoon, everyone traveled to Central Park to try their hand at fishing! Although no one caught anything, it was nice afternoon to be in park and explore nature.

73113_555694267822846_1862476614_nWednesday was a jam packed [pun intended!] day at camp. We took a trip to the farmers market in the morning to buy ingredients for our jam lesson in the afternoon, as well as fresh produce for our gazpacho and grilled cheese lunch. The infamous Beth from Beth’s Farmhouse Kitchen came by in the afternoon to lead our campers in a jam making lesson. We made fresh blueberry and nectarine/plum/peach jam; I hope the campers shared their jars with everyone at home!

971561_556150907777182_1316877857_n (1)Thursday we were back in the kitchen making a Middle Eastern themed lunch of baked falafels and tabbouleh. We also continued our exploration of composting with our very own worms! They are working their magic in our homemade compost buckets and we should have beautiful soil in no time. Looking at a figure full of leftovers, we also decided to repurpose some of our extra cornbread into Leftover Cornbread Bread Pudding. It’s always fun to try and use leftover or ingredients in new ways, and the sweet cornbread dessert was a hit!

6xQ9Ug0jqfjdHp9-E8uAV8iYhs7D56tdyDCtIepCDvwFor our last day of camp, we hit the farmers market for another edition of Top Chef Friday. As you can imagine, homemade pizzas were a big hit and it was awesome to make the whole thing – dough, sauce, and toppings – from scratch! With full bellies, we capped off our second session with yoga and a special graduation ceremony for all our budding young chefs!

I am sad to see another incredible group of campers go, but I am looking forward to what the next, and last, session of the summer has in store. If these next two weeks are anything like the last four, I can confidently say that I have had one of the best summers to date. Whether in the kitchen, at the farm, or just hanging out at camp it’s been a pleasure to share these last two weeks with all our amazing campers, and I don’t want to the summer to end!

summer camp fun – week 3!

26 Jul

It’s hard to believe another week has come and gone so fast!

IMG_2300Our second session is already half way over, and our campers have had a great week exploring local parks and gardens, learning about chocolate making, and as always flexing their culinary muscles.

On Monday, we welcomed fifteen new campers to the Butter Beans crew. After a brief orientation at camp HQ, our group headed to Feedback Farms to learn about urban farming. They were very excited about seeing bees and honey, as well as composting, planting, weeding, and other farm activities all on a city block.

1002484_552037461521860_1179957759_nTuesday we explored food from around the world, with a focus on Thailand. After a delicious tropical fruit salad snack and seed planting, the campers worked together to create a Vegetable Pad Thai lunch. Everyone agreed it was exceptionally delicious.

On Wednesday, our campers had the chance to get familiar with their sweet tooth. We made fresh mango ice cream before heading to the park in the morning. It was nice to have some free time to enjoy the significantly less hot sunshine. After a picnic lunch, our campers traveled to Fine & Raw Chocolate where they learned about the art of chocolate making. They were amazed at how different the chocolate tasted than a classic Hershey’s bar, and everyone went home with a small bar of their choice [Vanilla seemed to be the camp favorite].

On Thursday we got our hands dirty with a day full of compost fun. We started the morning with our camp version of ‘Bugs in Dirt’ pudding; a healthier twist on a classic kids snack. We followed up our snack with a fun art project, experimenting with the different textures and shapes that stamps created from food can make. For lunch, our campers made Green Rice Bowls with Sesame Sweet Potatoes, and it was wonderful to see them eating such a satisfying veggie-filled meal!

76364_553079324751007_96972723_nWe finished off the week with another Friday edition of Top Chef – Summer Rolls. It was fun to see how colorful the rolls turned out through the clear rice paper, and we even experimented with a sweet version of this traditionally savory dish. Our friends at Brooklyn Strength stopped by for another great yoga class, the perfect way to end a busy week!

Today marks the halfway point of the summer, and it’s incredible how time flies!

Over the last three weeks, I have watched over forty campers experience and learn about food in a whole new way. It’s powerful to hear the campers talk about something new they learned or tasted every day. It’s a wonderful journey to be a part of, and I am anxious to see what the next half of the summer will bring!