Days Four and Five at Bay Leaf Kitchen Summer Camp - Session Three, 2015

After a week of fun in the garden in Bayview, Thursday begins a whole new portion of our learning. We leave the city behind and head to the BIG Garden: a FARM! This session was our first time visiting Lone Willow Ranch, a Certified Organic Ranch and Farm in Firebaugh, CA. Shelby and John were ready and waiting for us and the kids poured off the bus into an exciting new world! Lone Willow is home to goats, pigs, chickens and over 125 acres of organic fruit, vegetable and herb production. The kids had their work cut out for them!

After meeting Shelby, getting a brief rundown on the property and having lunch (of course) we got our wagon and our baskets and set out to do some harvesting. We picked yellow wax beans, cucumbers, squash, mint, basil, and squash blossoms. We learned where the pollinators like to hang out and how to tell if a squash is the right size to eat or if its too big and should be fed to the pigs. 

We were all pretty hot after our morning of harvesting; what better way to cool off than to go SWIMMING! We splashed around for a bit and cooled down so that we could start our evening of cooking with all our amazing guest chefs. This week at the farm we had the amazing luck to have not one, not two but THREE guest chefs (and entourage) join us on the farm. Shannon Waters from Aatxe taught us how to make pizza and peppers stuffed with Lone Willow Goat Cheese and Basil. Tommy Quimby, also from Aatxe and the Bon Vivants, worked with us to infuse water with mint, cucumber and lime for a refreshing punch.  Chef Anna, from Three Babes Bakeshop and her partner, Lenore, worked with campers to make a healthy twist on cake that had zucchini in it! 

The meal was, of course, incredible. After stuffing our faces and cleaning up we all gathered around to watch each others' skits and musical performances and to eat some s'mores around a campfire. Once tucked into our tents it was off to dreamland after a hard day's work. Everyone was out like a light (after our visit from the mysterious purple carrot).

In the morning, we had a hearty farm breakfast with eggs, french toast, bacon and sausage from Lone Willow, some of Shelby's incredible house-made preserves and lots of fruit. We got camp packed up and had one last iron chef challenge where campers were provided with a surprise ingredient that needed to be integrated into their recipe. As usual, I was super impressed by the imaginations of the campers. One group even used their bell pepper as a bowl for their hummus and then chopped up more peppers to create a crudite octopus. 

We had an amazing time at Lone Willow Ranch. We can't wait to go back again soon!

For more information on Adam Allegro photography, go to www.adamallegro.com

-Rachel