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Kitchen Garden Corps Summer Program


The Kitchen Garden Corps was started in 2014 at Clarke Middle School where Wick Prichard served as our second AmeriCorps VISTA school specific gardener. The KGC was our idea of how to make use of a school garden during the summer. With the help of Debbie Mitchell and Tad MacMillan, we ran five weeks of the Kitchen Garden Corps with an average of about 3 kids a week. In total 8 different middle school kids gave us the benefit of the doubt that summer that we could take care of a garden, chickens, goats, and run a farm to table, made from scratch restaurant.

At present, the Kitchen Garden Corps averages 30 kids a week with around 70 different individuals from all four CCSD middle schools. And we now complete a yearly backpacking trip on a section of the Appalachian Trail, cementing our efforts to connect sustainable agriculture, community planning, and environmental conservation.

Our Kitchen Garden Corps summer program develops a healthy community who conserves natural resources through the practice of sustainable agriculture and the production of nutritious food. We achieve our mission in 5 steps:

1) providing a diverse group of youth with opportunities to transform their lives through education, employable skills, civic engagement, and leadership.
2) providing opportunities to a diverse group of youth to grow their own food and to create access to fresh food for their community.
3) developing an understanding of our fragile environment
4) conserving and restoring natural resources by practicing organic agricultural methods.
5) creating environmental leaders of the future by teaching environmental ethics and behaviors to children, teens, and adults.

If we had a definition of the Kitchen Garden Corps, it would read: We are a Do-It-Ourselves community with a focus on cooking, gardening, food preservation, nutrition, small farm animals, sustainability, the environment, and our local, state, national, and world communities.

A sample day with the Kitchen Garden Corps may look like:

Student arriving at 8 AM, playing a teambuilding game, doing some work in the garden, making their own homemade snack, learning about the cuisine of Columbia, preparing part of our Thursday meal, canning dill pickles, cleaning up, and heading home at noon.

Our 2020 camp schedule.

June 1-4: Hilsman Middle School

June 8-11: Hilsman Middle School

June 15-18: Clarke Middle School

June 22-25: Backpacking trip in the Southern Appalachian Mountains

July 6-9: Clarke Middle School

July 13-16: Clarke Middle School

The camp meets Monday to Thursday from 8 to 12 at Clarke Middle School and, new to this year, Hilsman Middle School! We have a camper run restaurant on Thursdays which usually means camp runs that day until 1:30 – 2 pm. Our pop-up restaurant is located at CMS and Hilsman. We do not run camp the week of June 29 – July 3 due to the July 4 holiday. During the week of July 15 – June 19, we will go on a backpacking trip in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Our location the past three years has been on a segment of the Appalachian Trail in the Nantahala National Forest.