Field Notes: Camp Ekar 2017 – June 26 – 30

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.

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

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, weeded our hoop house and planted cucumber seedlings, and prepared a delicious kale salad with a refreshing cucumber dressing. Campers took the Sh’mirat HaGuf mitzvah to heart by eating EVERY possible nutritious food available: kale stems, cucumber skins, lemon rinds, and more! 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!


Day 2 – Kehillah Kedosha (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 brainstormed how this cooperation appears in Jewish community. Here are some examples of Jewish community and teamwork that campers thought of: the building and rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash, creating a Sukkah for the festival of Sukkot, and making meals and spaces to celebrate Shabbat every week. We applied these ideas by working together in the garden: weeding the garlic patch and harvesting radishes and peas! We used this produce in our daily farm snack as the “dippers” for a bike-blender hummus. For our art project, we began to make some DIY batik-style challah covers and wooden challah boards for Shabbat!



Day 3 – Bal Tashchit (Do No

Colorful Swiss Chard harvested for SAME Cafe.

t Waste) & U’l’ovdah V’shomra (Tending the Land)

Exploring worms making compost!

Campers worked together as a community to preserve the earth by composting and tending 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! Then, we dug deeper into how Jews tend the land by not wasting or destroying beneficial ingredients for compost by investigating our worm composting bins. We even harvested some of the rich vermicompost to make compost tea–an organic fertilizer and pro-active disease repellent for our plants. After our experiential learning together, campers harvested colorful 6 crates of Swiss chard and three varieties of kale (curly, red Russian, and dinosaur!) to be donated to one of Ekar Farm’s hunger relief partners, SAME Cafe. This 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 oven! Our DIY project of the day was making quick pickles with this recipe. They are so quick, that you can eat them after 24 hours of being in the fridge!

Planting red noodle beans in the three sisters garden!

Day 4 – Tzedakah (Justice)

Our last day on the farm, we were challenged by the idea of justice and how to apply this to feeding everyone in a community by sharing our resources. We did this by playing a few games that taught us about Peah, how food is power, the story of Joseph & the famine, and hunger myths vs. facts. The final day of farmwork included weeding our second hoop house that is growing tomatoes and planting beans in our Three Sisters garden. We stirred up a cooperative Three Sisters Succotash as a dish that represents companion planning, resource sharing, and indigenous knowledge. Campers said that this dish was their favorite snack of the week! 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 faux-batik challah covers!

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. Campers milled whole grains for making challah, churned fresh butter, and completed our challah ritual items: challah boards and challah covers. For the challah boards we used a wood-burning technique; challah covers were made with a faux-glue-based batik method. The wood-burning tools we used were from Michaels if you are interested in doing more projects with wood! 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 our solar-oven once more to burn our challah tithing that was separated from the dough we made. Take a look at why we continue this ritual from Biblical times here: blessing  for separating the challah.
Thank you for a fun, engaging week on the farm! If you have any questions about our week contact