EarthDance Farms and Chipotle Teach Ferguson Kids About Farming

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On Monday, June 6, fifteen Ferguson middle school kids will get a first-hand lesson in farming from EarthDance. They'll partner with local Chipotle restaurants to introduce kids to organic gardening; they'll work in the fields of the oldest organic farm in Missouri and return to their classroom with produce they've picked. A Chipotle representative will give the students a lesson in salsa-making.

The next day St. Louis-area burrito lovers can help the cause. On Tuesday, June 7, EarthDance will receive fifty percent of Chipotle sales from customers who present the EarthDance flyer.

Molly Rockamann, Founding Director of EarthDance, explained the program to Gut Check.

Gut Check How was Ferguson Middle School chosen for this event? How were the 15 students chosen?

Molly Rockamann, EarthDance Founding Director Ferguson Middle School is located just down the street - 1 mile exactly - from the EarthDance farm. Nancy Schnell, a recently retired Ferguson Middle School teacher, participated in our EarthDance Organic Farming Apprenticeship program in 2010 and wanted youth in the area to have the same positive experiences on an organic farm that she did, learning about organic food production while working in the fields.

This winter, Nancy approached me about creating a farm-to-table summer camp together, and I was thrilled with the idea, since her long-term goals for the farm include many more programs and events available for young people.

The campers are self-selected. Nancy and others have been publicizing Camp EarthDance throughout local middle schools, mostly in the Ferguson area, and the middle school students and their parents decided to register for the camp.

What will the kids be doing, both in the field and when they return to their classrooms?

The campers will assist in doing the various tasks that happen on a small-scale organic vegetable farm: preparing beds for planting, planting seeds or seedlings, turning the compost pile, weeding, watering and harvesting. They'll harvest produce that will then go back to Ferguson Middle School with them and be incorporated into their lunch that day. EarthDance second-year apprentice Ginny Spernoga, who is also a nurse at Barnes Jewish, will give a nutrition and healthy foods preparation lesson to the campers before the meal as well.

What prompted EarthDance to participate in this event? Both the fundraiser and field trip.

EarthDance is hosting Camp EarthDance and is partnering with Chipotle for this fundraiser because we need additional funding to serve more people with organic farming and food education. Chipotle makes a great partner for us because of their commitment to sustainable food sourcing. It's also wonderful that Chipotle customers will be able to learn more about EarthDance and our offerings to the community on Tuesday, June 7, as we'll have volunteer store captains at each location educating people about our work.

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