Tag Archives: food & garden summer camp

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!


Photo courtesy of living off grid

Butter Beans’ newsletter debut + summer camp open house!

7 Feb

Butter Beans just put out its first newsletter! From a delicious lentil recipe, to updates on our Food & Garden summer camp, to how we connect with students through school food committees and a chance to hear from our chefs, we have a lot to share.  We hope you get the chance to check it out!

Sign up on the sidebar (scroll down on the right) of our website to receive future newsletters direct to your inbox.

If summer camp is on your mind (we’ve certainly had some weather to bring on warm summer thoughts in NY!), please join us this Sunday from 11am-1pm at our camp headquarters, Ger-Nis Culinary and Herb Center. This is an opportunity for you to meet and hear our wonderful staff, taste a typical Butter Beans summer camp snack, get answers to all your questions and mingle with other like-minded parents. And of course, children are welcome. You can sign up for camp on the spot and if before March 15th, receive an early bird discount!

The details:

Ger-Nis Culinary and Herb Center
540 President Street
suite 2E
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Thank you for supporting Butter Beans’ vision to nourish and sustain healthier, happier children.

in search of an inconsistent product – for the love of craft, and chocolate

24 May

As we prepare for our Food & Garden camp this summer, we are highlighting innovative leaders that are stepping into sustainable practices, and opening their doors for the rest of us to learn from. Mast Brothers Chocolate – is a great example. Two brothers from Iowa, that came to New York a decade ago to study culinary arts and film, decided to make their passion and committment to creat something sustainable and beautiful – for the sheer adventure of it, by opening a chocolate factory in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Their story, that includes sail boats and sustainable farming and equal exchange, is a beautiful one. But one of the things I most love about them, is their wrapping. They individually wrap each bar in butcher type paper, covered in designs made by themselves, their friends and their families that they print in-house. While much of  the world focuses on perfection and mass quantities of a sellable something, the Mast brothers focus on creating a high quality product, with a human touch. The beauty, and the inconsistency, is part of the craft they actually seek.

Today at Butter Beans, as we reviewed some feedback from students in one of our student food committees (these groups are set up for interested students to talk about lunch – about the menu, about our sourcing, our recipes, about growing – all things relating to our food chain – students have wonderful curiosity!). and one student posed the question that touched on this very topic of craft: “Why don’t your lemon bars (we serve dessert on Fridays) all look exactly the same like they do in a store?

I loved this question. It reminds me of our purpose, it reminds me of our connection to this idea of craft. In the case of Butter Beans, our purpose is to serve delicious school food made from scratch with love and sensibility about the balance of flavors, color, nutrition, accessibility, and seasonality. Our purpose is to help create a link between school communities and the food we eat, and we do this by first and foremost, serving delicious food.

If you’ve made a tray of cornbread or brownies at home – you have probably experienced an edge that came out thinner than an opposing edge. This kind of irregularity, happens sometimes when left to human hands, and we believe this human touch is worthwhile. We want our kids to get their hands dirty, to experiment with flavors and colors for the sake of doing so. We want to encourage curiosity about how things work, get created, grow, taste, and transform. We want children (of all ages) to feel inspired by their casserole, even if it didn’t come out quite as expected, to feel pride when serving up their homemade tomato sauce they learned to make from scratch, and to celebrate their growing carrot – whether it grew straight and strong, or whether it bumped into a few stones below the ground and grew curvy to get around them. And, we want children to ask questions about why their cornbread slice, or lemon bar slice, was thinner than their neighbors. The more questions, the better. It allows for added curiosity, for understanding and appreciation of all that goes into creation.

We are excited to be partnering with the Mast brothers this summer where our campers will get their own behind the scenes tour and tasting of the only chocolate factory in the city dedicated to an old world chocolate making process that takes 37 days to complete. Check them out! And if you know any 7-12 year olds who would like to join us on our summer adventures through our food chain, send them our way. We’ll be sure to send them back to you with tasty samplings to share.