August 5, 2011
Farm Alley classes brought the artisan production of food, clothing, and shelter to many children this summer. During three, one-week sessions, we kept extremely busy with many homegrown activities, harvesting wild foods, sewing clothes, climbing in the orchard, constructing shelters, and creating our own garden variety dyes.
A well made and dyed shirt, accompanied by a lot of wool… ready for the knitting needles!
The work cart became a vehicle…. moving with slope and gravity, the activity became a favorite.
The indigo and distaff apron went home a little damp, but it was to hard to resist wearing it out the door…
During our last and final week of food focused activity, we made plum-honey-blackberry soda with wild yeast, and toured local food farms and gardens that line the country road we call…. Farm Alley.
Here is our wholewheat short-bread covered in blackberry, stevia and tumeric dyed icing– adorned with sprinkles of fennel seed, dried orange, violets, hibiscus and rose petals…
The cotton fabric we used to squeeze and strain our naturally fermented soda held a temporary and beautiful shade of orange and pink.
The plum and blackberry soda was presented at the children’s farm stand on our last day of our last week of classes–sitting atop an onion and plum leaf dyed cotton swath of cotton.
We also made fruit leather from apples, figs, and blackberries. The children explored how to remove water from our wet mash– we tried three experiments– the sun, the oven and dehydrator.
The sun won… the most direct, and least impacting form of energy dried our fruit leather faster than the oven or the dehydrator.
Our rust experiments carried over through two weeks of class. The sun cooked the iron objects in our water bath– providing a rich and smelly dye and mordant– all in one. We overdyed the cloth in our plum and onion water creating a range of earthy tones.
The farm stand– housing all of the week’s food adventures. Sun tea made from lemon verbena was served with sun-dried fruit leather, naturally fermented soda, blackberry preserves, naturally leavened bread, flowers from Mt. Barnaby Farm (where we visited earlier in the week), and whole wheat naturally adorned short bread.
The weeks passed by quickly and were an inspiration to us all– one of the young participants made a book inspired by her good times.
Thank you also to Kaiku, Mr. Peabody, Figellius, and Princess I-ching (the very sweet and lovely resident goats and lambs) who played with the children every day. They seemed to have as much energy as the young humans– running jumping, chasing, snacking… they were excellent playmates for us all.