Root Camp – transforming food for young people
“Before I liked sleeping and smoking. Now I like making focaccia”
Charlotte, teenage Root Camper.
We’ve all heard of ‘farm to fork’ eating but at Root Camp, a hands-on cookery course for 15-21 year olds, this is what the students really do. The idea was created by Cassia Kidron when she realised her teenage son and most of his friends, who would soon be leaving home, didn’t know how to cook.
But rather than just teaching teenagers how to feed themselves, Root Camp courses inspire the students to see the wider importance of food.
Food and cooking is fun, social, creative and most importantly for young people, by engaging with ingredients and their preparation, so many lessons can be learnt about everything from ethics to geography and culture.
I recently went to a dinner in Hoxton, cooked by Root Camp students with the help of their teachers. The whole evening was joyous and inspirational, the food restaurant standard and the kids were glowing with their experience. Plates of bruschetta with creamy goat’s curd and green sauce were handed with drinks, while Val Warner (a root camp teacher and supporter) barbequed lamb in the garden with some of the students. We were seated on long trestle tables, covered in stylish simplicity with brown paper and huge plates of salads, rice pilafs, vegetables and lamb were laid down in the middle for us to feast on. After the speeches, Miriam – a teenager from South London, who had been at the camp, got up on stage and recited a rap-style poem she’d composed after her time there.
Watch a film of it here.
One of the Root Camp courses takes place in an outdoor living camp in Wales, where students spend their day working in the fields, foraging and then cook their harvest. They break into two groups, one gathering the ingredients while the other group cooks it for everyone to share at a feast at the end of the day. Every day is filled with a learning activity – whether hands on or listening to experts speak about their specialist fields, anything from bee keeping, bread making to eco-fashion.
The lessons learnt go way beyond the description of what is taught. Root Campers become independent, connected, responsible. All from doing one of the most basic activities of life – finding food and cooking it.
For more information, or to book a course, visit http://www.rootcamp.co.uk