For the first four weeks of July campers entering grades 6 through 8 were invited to Headacre Farm in Owls Head to learn about farming and cooking with Anne Perkins, Deb Donnelly and Kerry Altiero.

At Headacre Farm, the trio set out to prove to groups of middle school age campers that the world of organic, local farming is an exciting one with numerous health and environmental benefits.

Headacre Farm is a saltwater farm offering vegetables, herbs, fruits, flowers, and seasonal decorations. Headacre is committed to returning its 17 saltwater acres to sustainable, diversified, and organically-certified farming and becoming a vibrant, productive, and responsible member of the local communities. Headacre Farm is operated in partnership with Café Miranda and provides the Rockland restaurant with fresh, organic produce throughout the growing season.

As part of their commitment to community, Perkins and Donnelly approached Youthlinks over the winter about collaborating to create Farm Camp. Each week a group of 12 students would spend their mornings at Headacre farm learning about plant families and organic pest management from Farmer Anne and helping to plant vegetables and weed and water garden beds. With Donnelly, campers also made their own barometers to measure atmospheric pressure, planted basil seeds and nasturtium flowers, and made terrariums with recycled bottles and materials found on the farm.

Youthlinks’ AmeriCorps members Josie Gates, Sarah Woodman and Kameryn Sanchez worked with campers to plant, maintain and harvest their own garden beds. They were able to monitor the progress of their own vegetables and make decisions about weeding and watering.

On Wednesdays, campers harvested vegetables from the farm and their garden plots to cook a veggie focused lunch with Altiero. While the campers washed produce and chopped greens, Chef Altiero discussed the merits of eating green and eating local. He gave an example about the difference in taste between a tomato shipped from across the country and one grown in a local garden and he also described the global effects that a small, locally grown tomato can have. Because a tomato grown in a farm only a few miles away doesn’t need to be shipped very far at all, it has a smaller carbon footprint than a tomato from across the country.

In the afternoons campers left the farm but continued the outdoor theme and explored local areas such as Mt. Battie in Camden, Lucia Beach at Birch Point State Park, and Chickawaukee Pond and Megunticook Lake.

On the last day of camp, campers and their families were invited to a family field day at Headacre farm for games and a potluck style dinner. Families competed in tug-of-war and were given a tour of the farm by campers eager to show off the vegetables they took care of.