NSCDS Farm-to-Table Camp

The North Shore Country Day School Expedition Camp has recently been extended to offer the Farm-to-Table Camp led by NSCDS Upper School teacher Drea Gallaga and Handcut Foods chef Brendan McDermott.
As a continuation of the North Shore food-education program, this camp allows participants to interact with their food from its origin, through the preparatory stages and into the final meal. Campers of varying ages work in the campus gardens, learn kitchen skills, venture on exploratory field trips and participate in a cooking challenge entitled “The Taste of North Shore.” While each day is filled with new adventures and tasty treats, the emphasis of the program is on teaching campers about healthy lifestyles and how to be conscious of the environment in which our food comes from.

Drea and Brendan believe that the understanding and appreciation of food begins in the garden. Campers work to weed, compost and plant on campus as they watch their seeds sprout and nurture previously planted seedlings. For Drea, this is one of the most joyous parts of camp, “It’s been really fun for me to be part of this program and see kids get so excited about playing in the dirt,” she said.

After campers grow fresh foods in the garden, they use them to learn cooking skills in the North Shore cafeteria. McDermott aims to teach the campers a range of culinary skills. “I mainly focus on cooking techniques that could be carried over to many different dishes, essentially giving campers the basics of sauteing, grilling, knife skills and safety,” he said. Prepping ingredients plays an integral role in the North Shore food philosophy as it teaches students and campers to appreciate food and the dedication it takes to prepare a meal.

In addition to growing and preparing foods, the campers take expeditions to local nature preserves such as the Heller Nature Center, Pushing the Envelope Farm, Wagner Farm and the Green City Market/ Edible Gardens. To further their food education, the campers have the opportunity to work on local farms to see plants and animals in a habitat other than school. These field trips give the campers an opportunity to see different parts of the food industry as well as explore local farms.

At the end of camp, the culmination of the growing, preparing and learning is the “Taste of North Shore” cooking challenge. Campers are placed on teams where they invent, prepare, and serve a recipe to their parents and North Shore faculty. The independence to prepare a dish allows them to apply the skills they learned during the Farm to Table Camp while teaching students how to work together in the kitchen.

Although Farm to Table Camp is a newer addition to the North Shore Expedition program, it is enjoyed by students and faculty daily as it represents the North Shore food philosophy in an incredibly fun and interactive way.
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North Shore Country Day School is a junior kindergarten through 12th grade, college-preparatory school founded in Winnetka, Illinois in 1919.  With rigorous academic pursuit as the cornerstone, North Shore provides many opportunities for all students to excel – in the classroom and the laboratory, on the stage and the playing field, in their communities and beyond.