It seems like so long ago since our last blog! I feel like not much happened, but reflecting back, many things happened and lots of fun came from those “happenings”. Hi all, Debbie here, Appalachia/AmeriCorps at Rural Resources. We celebrated our teens and kids going back to school!!!! Yayaya!!!! Oh, this all sounds great and dandy – less classes, more free time (who are we kidding!). It has been a busy month getting ready for fall planting/cover cropping, fair, end of the summer teen retreat, our 3rd Annual Teen Chopped Cook-Off, planning a trip to Berea College to tour the campus with teens, thinking about fall activities, and when I’m supposed to slow down. All fun and games here, who needs to rest!
Fair started our month off as the teens gathered and figured out what they would be showcasing this year. We focused heavily on promoting a healthy lifestyle campaign – 5210. The 5 represents 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day (our big push on the campaign trail), 2 reminds us to have 2 or less hours of screen time a day, 1 says get out and exercise or have some physical activity for at least one hour, and 0 notta drop of sugary drinks (ah my sweet tea down fall!). The teens heavily promoted the 5 of the campaign by handing out samples of vegetables and fruit throughout the week of fair. A couple of our teens wore veggie costumes around the fair handing out stickers to remind everyone about 5210. Many questions were asked of them, and they were excited to share and see happy faces who were willing to listen and take the stickers. We also lined up preservation/cooking demonstrations during fair. We had professionals demonstrating canning tomatoes, yogurt making, corn cob jelly, pestos, infused vinegars, and braiding bread. The teens had a good time preparing the fair booth, setting up, and working the booth space during fair week. It gave them the opportunity to share with others all the things they get to do, experience, learn, and simply enjoy!
We are gearing up for our end of the summer teen retreat and our Teen Chopped Cook-Off. Two big events the teens work very hard for and look forward too. The retreat will be happening this weekend. The teens will be spending the night on the farm, developing team work and leadership skills through many activities including playing hungry hungry teens! The teens enjoy time to spend developing skills and relationships with teens from other groups. We will also be having workshops on bee keeping, milk production on the farm, and vegetables. Check back next month where I will share the activities and the hungry hungry teens game. If I give too many clues, the teens may figure this out before the weekend gets here. I cannot have the cat out of the bag yet! We will all enjoy some play time on the farm from a summer of working!
During our retreat weekend, the teens will also see who they will be partnered with for our 3rd Annual Teen Chopped Cook off, set for Saturday, September 26, 1p.m. – 4p.m. at First Christian Church in Greeneville, TN. If you find yourself needing to wonder from home for the day, stop over and see us! This is truly an amazing event. The teen teams must prepare a plated meal for the judges in 1.5 hours and incorporate two secret ingredients that they find out minutes before the competition begins. The heat is on as they bustle around gathering materials, chopping, flipping, flopping, sautéing, stirring, measuring, and creating masterpieces without (get this) guidance from any adult or chef. Sure, before hand they can ask chefs questions in preparing a dish based on a specified meat, this year chicken. The chefs help and guide them in preparing these dishes, but the teens must execute everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) on their own. The teen teams are judged on presentation, handling and cleanliness of workstations and food, use of secret ingredients, teamwork, use of local ingredients, and of course taste. The teens must know inside and out their dish to explain everything to the judges. They must also know how to work with fresh ingredients from the farm. All their skills are put to the test! What excitement as the teens show off, and impress (yes even me and the chefs they work with). So, join us if there is nothing drastically pressing. We would love to have you! And yes, you get to sample the dishes. Here is a picture of the winning dish from last year:
and some pictures of last years action:
On top of all these activities, we are dealing with fall crop planting and cover cropping. I am in the midst of getting the teens their plants and seeds they requested, and cover crops to improve their soil for next year. I am excited that many want to continue to plant for fall/winter. It’s exciting to see youth excited about getting their hands dirty growing their own food. Harvest numbers have been very impressive this past month, and the teens expressed much pride in their faces as they shared the quantities and stories of their harvests the past month. I am sensing a potential for some future market farmers!
Well, off to get ready for all the fun! Enjoy your fall activities and we hope to see you at our Cook off event.