Every Friday during the summer, Ambler Farm’s Day Camp invites parents to stick around after pickup time and enjoy Family Day with their children. Together campers and parents can get up close with the goats, sheep, pigs, and bunnies; enjoy a cookout and watermelon; explore the growing gardens; and get a chance to bring home some of the amazing organic produce grown at the farm.
One of the best features is that some of the older campers get to work the farm stand during Family Day time, helping to sell the lettuce, carrots, beets, onions, flowers and so much more that are harvested from Ambler’s fields, as well as Ambler Farm’s own maple syrup and t-shirts available for sale–all that the kids get a hand in helping adults purchase. They actually get a sense of the whole farm cycle, because earlier in the day the campers spent some time helping Farmer Jonathan pick crops that have ripened that will go to market the next day when Ambler Farm opens its weekly Saturday farm stand to the public (9 a.m.-2 p.m.).
Even better, Ambler Farm holds Family Day that’s open to the public–everyone is invited to visit the farm and enjoy the same experience. On hand to help out will be Ambler Farm apprentices and volunteers.
“This is what we want the town to see. The whole community is engaged–children, adults. We have music, we have animals, we have food, and this is what a community farm should be. Look how people are gathering. There’s probably almost 200 people here, and it’s absolutely beautiful,” says Ambler Farm program director Kevin Meehan. He runs the camp with assistant program director Jen Grass along with help from Ambler Farm apprentices and counselors.
As Meehan talks with GOOD Morning Wilton, he’s frequently interrupted by campers who come over for a high five or fist bump, to say, “Hi Mr. Meehan!” or to say good-bye as they leave. “See you later, bud. Enjoyed your company–come back again,” he says in reply. The kids clearly are in awe of the farm’s pied piper.
Many of them are carrying jars of homemade pickles, one of the activities for the week. The kids explain to GMW how they picked the cucumbers and learned how to slice them and pickle them, eventually getting to take home the ‘fruits’ of their labor.
Parents love what goes on and what their kids are experiencing.
Ruth DeLuca is one of those Wilton parents, with a second grader and kindergartener enrolled at the farm. “I love that they get to be outside in nature and use all the skills and ideas that they learn in school in an organic way. It comes to life, you’re learning without feeling like you’re ‘learning,'” she says, adding, “It’s important for kids to learn that food comes from somewhere, not just the supermarket. And that you need to take care of the environment you live in, and that dirt is happy and fun.”
Meehan says that’s by design. “They learn because everything we’re doing is fascinating. But we start with fun. One of the things we are most proud of is that we get as many kids going into 5th, 6th and 7th grade as we do going into 1st and 2nd grade, which means we’re engaging all the age groups. Many of the preschool weeks are sold out, so there is a need in this community. People and kids are longing to be connected to the land, to the animals. It’s actually cool to go to farm camp.”
The farm is one of the biggest economic development magnets for the town, too. It attracts families and visitors from all over Fairfield County. Meehan says that 55% of the families enrolled at camp are from outside of Wilton.
“We draw from 12 different towns. People travel for this farm camp and they come to Wilton for it,” he notes. “The need is great all over.”
Camp does have some limited space for additional campers in the next four weeks. Visit the Ambler Farm website for details or to enroll.
Here’s what’s available for sale this week at the farm stand: arugula, beans (Roman and Pole), beets, carrots, celery, collard greens, cucumbers, elephant garlic, fennel, flowers, garlic, garlic scapes, herbs, kale, lettuce mix, lettuce heads, onions, perpetual spinach, red malabar spinach, rhubarb, scallions, sorrel, summer squash, sunflowers, Swiss chard, tatsoi, and as always, Ambler Farm maple syrup.
Everything that’s grown on Ambler Farm is 100% organically grown from seed in a compost-based, biologically-active potting soil.