Camp Ekar 2017 Field Notes – July 10-14

What a fun week we’ve been having at Camp Ekar! Check out our summary of each day below and click the links for recipes and follow-up instructions for different camp projects.


A glimpse at our bean harvest!

Day 1 – Sh’mirat HaGuf (Taking Care of Our Bodies)

Exploring the inside of a pea pod!

On our first day of Camp Ekar, we explored how growing healthy food supports our bodies! Campers learned about Jewish prayers that thank G!d for our bodily functions, harvested organic peas, kale leaves, and string beans, prepared a delicious kale salad with a refreshing cucumber dressing. Campers took the Sh’mirat HaGuf mitzvah to heart by making sure to drink LOTS of water throughout the hot day on the farm and snacking on snap peas throughout the produce harvest. We wrapped up our time on the farm by making some DIY skincare products using natural ingredients: beeswax lip balm and coffee-sugar hand scrub!


Working as a community to weed the three sisters garden (corn & beans).

Day 2 – Kehillah Kedoshah (Holy Community)

We were inspired by how bees work together to pollinate the farm and make honey as we build our own camp community. We investigated the bee hives, simulated how pollination works for honey bees, and connected this work to how Jewish communities work together. We read the story All Kinds of Strong as an example of how every person in a community has a strength to contribute. We applied these ideas of community by working together in the garden: weeding the around the corn and beans, painting a new picnic table, preparing a snack together, and collecting rocks to help save our challah cover projects! Our fresh farm snack included zucchini harvested straight from Ekar Farm and a couple of ingredients easily found in your pantry: a lemon-Parmesan zucchini noodle dish (with a dash of honey to recognize our learning about bees). For our art project, we began to make some DIY batik-style challah covers for Shabbat to contribute to our family communities at home!



Exploring the worms and compost!

Day 3 – Bal Tashchit (Do Not Waste/Destroy)

Campers worked together as a community to preserve the earth by composting and tending the farm.  First, we connected the ideas of bal tashchit to a fun story:  Joseph Had a Little Overcoat.  This story helped us take on the mindset of turning nothing into something! We dug deeper into how Jews don’t waste or destroy beneficial ingredients for compost by investigating our worm composting bins. We explored the “greens” (nitrogen) and “browns” (carbon) that are needed to make the most balanced, nutritious compost and then collected these ingredients around the farm to feed our worms!  After our experiential learning together, campers applied this idea of not wasting food scraps and other organic materials by using organic fertilizers made from repurposed organic materials to help our peppers and eggplants grow. After all that hard work on the farm, we made a refreshing bike-blender kale smoothie to enjoy with our lunches. We finished our day by making quick pickles–showing how we can preserve food (thereby not wasting it)–with this recipe. They are so quick, that you can eat them after 24 hours of being in the fridge!

Harvesting in the fields!

Day 4 – U’l’ovdah V’shomra (Tending the Land)

Our last day on the farm, We discussed the sixth day of Genesis (Bereishit) to learn about how the Torah teaches Jews to be the keepers of the earth. Then, campers did a scavenger hunt around the farm to find different ways Jews are currently doing this throughout the world–in Canada, Africa, Israel, Vermont, and many other places Jews grow food and care for animals! Our final day of farmwork included  harvesting 10 crates of Swiss chard and three varieties of kale (curly, red Russian, and dinosaur!) to be donated to two of Ekar Farm’s hunger relief partners: SAME Cafe and Kavod Senior Life. We also planting pumpkin, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, and other fun squash variety seeds in our Three Sisters garden, a garden that represents companion planting, resource sharing, and indigenous knowledgeThis busy morning of learning and farming together made the group ready to cook and eat up some yummy zucchini muffins that were baked in a solar ovenCampers even had more energy to put toward milling whole grains into flour that would be used in challah dough the next day. Lastly, we continued working on our challah cover art projects by painting them into works of art.

Day 5 – Shabbat & Tikkun Olam (Repair the World)

Final product of our challah cover art project!

Camp Ekar came to a close by celebrating Shabbat and reflecting on how growing food repairs the world. We discussed how our rest on Shabbat once a week helps us gain energy to do work that helps the world during the other six days. We read Bagels from Benny to help us better understand how our work during the week on the farm contributed to the world! Campers made fresh challah dough, churned butter, and completed their challah covers just in time for Shabbat. Before braiding our individual challah loaves, we practiced separating an offering from the dough we made. Take a look at why we continue this ritual from Biblical times here: blessing  for separating the challah. The challah covers we finished were made with a faux-glue-based batik method and might need another good rinsing before using. If there is still glue on the challah covers, use warm warm to loosen the glue and peel off with your fingers. I recommend doing it over the sink. We also used dried lemon balm from the farm to make our own tea bags to help us rest this Shabbat after an active week on the farm!
Thank you for a fun, engaging week on the farm! If you have any questions about our week contact