Camp Ekar 2017 Field Notes: July 24 – 28

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.


Solar oven baking the shrinky dinks!

Day 1 – Bal Tashchit (Do Not Waste/Destroy)

On our first day of camp this week, we 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

Exploring compost and worms!

and other organic materials by using organic fertilizers made from repurposed organic materials to help our tomatoes grow. For our farm fresh snack, we harvested kale leaves and prepared them into kale chips using solar ovens. By using the power of the sun, a renewable resource, we continued to embody the idea of bal tashchit!  We continued to harness the sun’s energy to make something out of what is usually considered trash: plastic #6 shrinky dinks. Rather than buying new sheets of plastic specifically for this craft, we used unwanted recyclables marked with the #6, colored them with sharpies, and baked them in the solar oven until they shrank and became hard pieces of jewelry.


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 applied these ideas of community by working together in the garden: harvesting beans and zucchini, taking turns contributing to our farm snack, and helping each other find our way around the land. Today’s farm snack was a hit: a lemon-Parmesan zucchini noodle dish (with a dash of honey to recognize our learning about bees). We even added some of our bean harvest to the mix to give us some extra crunch and healthy nutrients! For our art project, we continued to relate to the holy communities of bees by finding the most beautiful flower petals and leaves in the garden for nature bracelets. These can be made easily in any garden using a basic painters tape as the wristband. The campers were dedicated to being gentle toward the plants while being artists in making their creations.

A glimpse at our bean harvest.

Nature bracelets made by farmer artists!

Spiralizing the zucchini into noodles!


Harvesting tomatillos to use in our bike-blender salsa snack.

Day 3 – U’l’ovdah V’shomra (Tending the Land)

For our third day on the farm this week, we discussed the 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 world–in Canada, Africa, Israel, Vermont, and in many other places where Jews grow food and care for animals! We applied this concept of u’l’vodah v’shomra by harvesting lemon balm, tomatillos, jalapeno, onion, and radish seeds. The lemon balm and radish seeds will be dried in the next couple of days so we can use the lemon balm leaves for tea and save the radish seeds for future planting! The rest of our harvest went toward our favorite farm snack of the week: bike-blender salsa. We finished our day by making quick pickles–showing how we can preserve food as a way to tend our land and produce with this recipe. They are so quick, that you can eat them after 24 hours of being in the fridge!

A bountiful harvest of kale and chard leaves!

Day 4 – Shmirat HaGuf (Taking Care of Our Bodies)

On our last day on the farm, we explored how growing healthy food supports our bodies! Campers brainstormed ways that we already protect our bodies such as brushing our teeth, eating good food, drinking water, and being safe in all spaces–even with the guidance from parents or family members. We connected this idea of others supporting us in taking care of our physical selves to the Three Sisters Garden. Each plant in this garden physically supports the others! Campers took the Sh’mirat HaGuf mitzvah to heart by making sure to drink LOTS of water throughout the hot day on the farm, exercising through farming activities like weeding and harvesting, and cooking a healthy dish inspired by the Three Sisters: Succotash. Our harvest of kale, chard, and beans were donated to our hunger relief partners  SAME Cafe & Kavod Senior Life. We wrapped up our time on the farm by milling whole grains in preparation for Shabbat making a beeswax lip balm to help protect our skin.

Kid-made, quick-rise challah dough to be baked in the oven at home for Shabbat.

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

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.W To also support celebration of Shabbat, we made beeswax candle sticks that can be used for the ritual of welcoming in the Sabbath. We also processed dried lemon balm from the farm that we harvested earlier in the week to make our own tea bags. This healing tea will help us rest on Shabbat after an active week on the farm!

Thank you for an amazing session of Camp Ekar! If you have any questions about our week on the farm contact