Children can learn about dinner at Dickinson College Farm

PASA Youth Field DayChildren can learn about dinner at Dickinson College Farm

By Allison Dougherty | Special to PennLive
April 11, 2013

I do not fear food. Isn’t that brave of me?

Seriously, some people seem to be awfully cautious about their food. I’m not talking about those with very real dietary restrictions, but perfectly normal people with perfectly normal chemistry who are fearful of ingesting a loaf of bread, a bit of fat or, horrors, a swallow of sugar. A persnickety group of people.

I do not fear food because food is not a danger-filled mystery. Food is amazing. Even sugar.

Certainly, eating a dinner of jellybeans and butter cream frosting, with a bowl of lard for dessert, isn’t a wise meal choice, but we’re not talking about the absurd, we’re just talking about dinner. I’ve seen from where some of your dinners come. It’s a nice place. You’d probably like it.

Years ago, my ex-husband was watching a ballgame on a Sunday. I was reading the newspaper. Living on a farm popped into my head. “Let’s live on a farm,” popped out of my mouth.

The husband, who had only been married to me for a couple of years and was still entirely unaware how I interpret the word “yes,” said if I could find a farm, we’d live on it.

Then, he went back to his ballgame.

Eight weeks later, we had rented a house on a massive farm in rural Indiana. Isn’t “yes” fun?

Sometimes, I felt as if we’d been dropped into a giant, cow filled terrarium. Living on the farm was like living in a biology experiment. Everything, all the time, was growing on that farm.

The place was astonishing. You could hear the corn pushing and grunting its way above ground and watching wheat turn to amber – it really is amber – was a tactile experience.

Seeing wheat turn amber against a water-blue sky will make your palms feel warm and your face glow from the inside. Who wouldn’t want to eat a piece of bread after seeing that?

I learned a lot the year we lived on the farm, not the least of which was: Food is not scary. How you use it can be unwise – jellybean dinner referenced above – but it’s really nice stuff.

Learning about farms and growing is something your children can do this summer at the Dickinson College Farm in Boiling Springs.

Dickinson College’s Center for Sustainability Education, Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring and the college’s farm are joining together this summer to offer a weeklong farm day camp for fourth- through sixth-graders called Discover, Inquire, Grow Camp.

Children will learn about sustainable agriculture, renewable energy – the farm has solar panels – water health and more. They will also harvest and then cook a meal with what they’ve gathered.

The program is intended to teach children about their local resources and how to appreciate them. Lindsey Lyons, who is the assistant director of the Center for Sustainable Education, said everyone’s got to eat, and knowing more can result in the ability to make better choices.

If I take the time to think about my dinner, I have saved in my head the growl of a combine running late at night, my mother’s husband in boots and gloves standing over a vat of maple sap while it cooks to syrup and a steel bucket of vegetables, crusty with dirt, waiting for me on my back porch. I’m not afraid of my food, but who would be afraid of that?

If you go

  • WHAT: Discover, Inquire, Grow Camp.
  • WHEN: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. June 17-21.
  • WHERE: Dickinson College Farm in Boiling Springs.
  • INFO: The cost for the camp is $150 and scholarships are available. Registration is required by April 25. For more information, call 717-245-1781 or go to

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