Mackenzie Wesel (left), a member of Hope Lutheran Church, Temecula, Calif., and Kari Slattum, a member of Holy Trinity in Thousand Oaks, Calif., pet Esther the goat at Luther Glen’s farm. The goats are happy to consume the weeds that campers pull from the garden.

Supervised campers can work the farm in their

free time or as part of camp service. They harvest vegetables, collect eggs in the chicken coop, and plant new seeds or seedlings for the future. The process educates campers about the food chain as the produce they grow and harvest helps support Central City Lutheran Mission in San Bernardino, Calif., a men’s homeless shelter in the middle of a food desert. Luther Glen is one of a growing number of camps

and retreat centers that are building a ministry around gardens, animals and farms. “Farming and gardening as a camp endeavor instills in campers an enhanced sense of gratitude to Creator God for the blessings of this life,” said Don Johnson, executive director of Lutheran Outdoor Ministries. Johnson, who has observed many of the gardens

and farms at camps, said campers go home with a greater understanding of where their everyday food originates, have a greater appreciation for the work that goes into providing food, and reap the joy of tasting food that is fresh and local. Since 2012, Hungry Mother Lutheran Retreat

Center, Marion, Va., has worked with nearby First United Methodist Church to educate campers, young and old alike, about the benefits of growing healthy organic produce at home. The project is called Sprouting Hope Community Garden.

30 AUGUST 2017

A young camper (name withheld) participated in a program about beekeeping at Hungry Mother Lutheran Retreat Center in Marion, Va. Campers get to try on a bee suit and learn about pollination and the role bees have in providing food that winds up on dinner tables.

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day,”

said Chris Stevens, executive director of Hungry Mother, reciting the familiar quote. “Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. We are just like that.”

“ Farming and gardening as a camp endeavor instills in campers an enhanced sense of gratitude to Creator God for the blessings of this life.”

Hungry Mother hosts five summer camps with

more than 200 children attending in total. Each gets to plant something, nurture it while at camp and take a plant home as well. “We want this to go beyond just a camp garden,”

Stevens said. “We are in the middle of Appalachia. There are a lot of low-income families here and many live in poverty. We also have a childhood obesity problem.”

Photo: Courtesy of Luther Glen Camp

Photo: Courtesy of Hungry Mother Lutheran Retreat Center

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