Today was field trip day at Culinary Camp! The campers waited patiently this morning to head off to our field trip by playing outside and learning each others name’s. We enjoyed the fresh, crisp morning air and practiced patience. Finally, we were off!
Our trip today was to the International Institute of Global Farms located in Midtown, Saint Louis off Folsom Avenue. This small garden/farm is located in the heart of Saint Louis City, and it is the second location owned by the International Institute. The International Institute is dedicated to immigrants and refugees whom are seeking better life in America and are seeking to use the skills they know to make a small living in the US. Here, at these farms, refugees and immigrants can use a small part of land to grow crops and vegetables, plant fruit and nut trees, and use the earth as they know to gain a profit. We were stunned by the mass amount of growth on such a small acre of land in the middle of Saint Louis. Our tour of the vast garden was led by our friend Joel, a member of the International Institute who runs the garden at Folsom. Joel was very informative and taught us a lot about the importance of respecting the earth and the crops in which these individuals worked hard to grow. He taught us about the theory of the “Three Sisters,” an ancient growing technique used worldwide of growing beans/legumes, squash, and corn. These three crops were the staple to many people’s diets, allowing for them to get all the nutrients and protein necessary to sustain a human life, especially when meat or other forms of sustenance was unavailable.
Joel showed us a variety of plants and herbs to taste, including garlic shoots, mustard greens, perilla, dill, fennel tops, and sorrel. He showed us how walking onions ‘walk’ and the importance of nitrogen in our soil. After a tour, Joel showed us how to inoculate wood to grow oyster mushrooms by drilling small holes in the wood and then placing small ‘plugs’ into the holes. We also shoveled mulch around the base of some fruit trees in order to keep out pests and weeds which may harm the growth of the trees. It was hard work, yet very satisfying to know that we could lend a helping hand to these hard working farmers.
Above: Learning how to inoculate wood for mushrooms!
After our field trip, we ventured off into Tower Grove Park for a relaxing picnic lunch packed yesterday by the campers themselves! After all that hard work, it tasted great to dig into a fresh sandwich, fruit, and some crisp veggies. We enjoyed the fresh air and played in the park before heading back to SLU to cook one last time for the day.
This afternoon, the campers made curry coconut caramel popcorn! We learned the importance of safety around hot sugar, like caramel, and that it can severely burn us if we are not careful. We also learned how to toast coconut properly, and include a variety of savory spices like cayenne, paprika, curry powder, and cumin into a sweet snack. It was a delicious treat to end the day and we hope some of it made it home!