The Burning Kumquat is a student-run micro farm located on the Danforth Campus. It provides students and community members hands-on experience with organic food production. In the summertime, two or more student managers host Camp Kumquat, which brings dozens of St. Louis elementary and middle school students to the farm to explore food, nutrition, and gardening.
The 2016 Camp Kumquat took place June 13 through July 22. WashU students Noah Bardash, Halley Cummings, and Sally Rifkin led three two-week sessions and welcomed 51 campers from the area. When asked to describe a typical day, Noah shared the following:
“As campers arrive, they ‘wake up the plants’ by visiting a bed of crops, feeling the soil, looking for critters, and drawing or recording observations on their notepads. Once everyone has arrived, we circle up, stretch, and play an active game to warm up for the day. We then launch into our garden time, which involves rotating between tasks such as weeding tomato beds, planting sweet potatoes, and harvesting arugula. After a snack break, we devote some time to a craft project, so our kids can bring something home from camp. Some of our favorite crafts include painting pots and planting seeds, tie-dying Camp Kumquat t-shirts, and making beeswax candles. We eat lunch provided by Bon Appétit and then teach a lesson and/or have a visiting community expert on topics ranging from pollinators to food deserts. We wrap up the day with more active games and time for reflection and journaling.”
In addition to hosting activities and speakers, the Camp Kumquat team took campers on a visit to a new food-focused exhibit at the Science Center and operated a weekly farmers’ market outside of the DUC. As evidenced in the photo above, the campers enjoyed trying their hand at marketing and customer service while selling produce to passers-by.
Noah summed that, “After several busy months of planning, it’s been such a rewarding experience to watch our campers laugh and learn at Camp Kumquat. Reading ‘I love this camp!!’ on our end-of-session camper survey and hearing feedback like ‘[My daughter]… is eating fruits and vegetables that she never would have tried before…’ on our post-camp parent evaluation made us feel fulfilled with the work we are doing.”