Silver Lake Camp Garden
Silver Lake Conference Center (SLCC), an Outdoor Ministry of the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ, is a summer camp and year-round retreat center in the Berkshire range of northwest Connecticut. We are hosts to approximately 1,000 campers, in addition to summer staff and counselors for eight weeks of summer, and to approximately 2,500 people on multiple-day retreats in the fall, winter and spring.
The Silver Lake Camp Garden is an integral part of our Sustainability Program, which is a multi-faceted program aimed at creating, supporting and promoting sustainable and resilient lifestyles. The Garden is an educational garden that was just expanded to produce more food for our summer camp and retreat center kitchens, as part of our Healthy and Local Food Initiative. We use permaculture / organic gardening practices, and incorporate our own compost from food waste and scraps collected during the summer and weekend retreats.
The Garden serves as an experiential teaching tool to help grow awareness, knowledge and excitement about where and how our food grows (and why that’s important), for the campers and staff (10-25 years old), as well as retreat participants, which include families, elders and youth alike, including some at-risk populations. We regularly host volunteers to help out in the garden, including campers and youth / adult groups from churches. The 2013 Garden was under-utilized, due to timing of expansion and available resources (including funds for seeds and seedlings, organic matter and amendments, labor, etc.). Despite this, we grew more than 25 varieties of vegetables, fruits, herbs and beneficial plants, and harvested over 1,200 pounds of produce. The summer camp and retreat kitchen staffs used the harvest and highlighted the Camp-grown foods in their menu and in the salad bar, raising awareness and appreciation for the freshness and quality of the food.
KGI is a nonprofit community of over 30,000 people who are growing some of our own food and helping others to do the same.
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