Food Scraps and Barn Chores: Bodies and Networks at Camp Treetops

Lily B. Gordon


Although bushels of research have been collected about organic farms, artisanal food production, and community in relation to food, there exists little knowledge on educational-productive farms, which are farms intended for children that balance farm/food education and productivity. Children are involved in all aspects of food production from planting seeds to composting, caring for animals to harvesting them, cooking to eating. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted at Camp Treetops in Lake Placid, New York, this paper examines children’s bodily experiences on the farm. How does Camp Treetops’ living philosophy—and the way it manifests itself in the practices on the educational productive farm—affect children’s relationships with food? I argue that in being displaced from their homes and transported to camp for the summer, where they experience a collection of sensory interactions within a network of human and nonhuman actants, the children undergo a transformation. Their bodily experience leaves them forever tied in a network to a piece of land. Further, the emergence of the model of the educational-productive farm at Camp Treetops implicitly critiques the distance marking the relationship between people and food today.

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