Summer camp season is upon us, and what a different experience it is today! Camp has expanded beyond canoeing, s’mores, and campfire songs. King County campers dive into sports, performing arts, outdoor education, and a wealth of other activities.
King County hosted a special group of campers who are becoming immersed in a new life and a new country. A group of thirty-four children from World Relief Summer Camp visited CitySoil Farm, located at South Treatment Plant in Renton. There, they learned about wastewater treatment and sustainable urban agriculture, while helping other families in need.
These campers are refugees or vulnerable immigrants who come from around the world to live in our diverse region. World Relief Seattle organizes the camp and provides a range of other services. The organization helps settle people who may have left their home countries with little notice and few belongings.
World Relief Seattle connected with CitySoil through an urban gardening partnership with King Conservation District. They recognized CitySoil as a unique element that would benefit their summer camp program. One teacher explains that summer camps help get the kids grounded.
“A lot of these students haven’t even been in a United States school yet. Coming to camp, being in a classroom, going on field trips are new experiences. All these situations are great practice for those students who will be starting school next fall.”
King County coordinated transportation for the campers through the Wheels to Water program. Campers traveled from their summer camp in Kent to the 1.5-acre farm at the County’s South Treatment Plant.
First, King County’s Ashley Mihle described how King County treats wastewater.
“The process is always a revelation to people who tour the County’s treatment plants,” Mihle says. But she notes that regional wastewater treatment may be a new concept for some campers. The United Nations estimates that 80 percent of the world’s wastewater isn’t treated, and countries around the world use many approaches to wastewater treatment.
The campers learned how King County recycles resources from wastewater and saw the results first hand. They pitched in at a unique urban farm where healthy food is raised using recycled water and compost made from Loop®. They gathered some of the summer harvest that will help feed families in need through a local food bank.
Campers picked raspberries and plums and collected squash. They enjoyed lunch at the farm’s picnic table. Then each student took home a container of fruit that they picked.
CitySoil visitors rave about the gardening experience and the good food. The World Relief campers were no exception.
One participant expressed appreciation to a County employee. “Thank you letting come pick food at your farm!”
“Even though everyone didn’t speak the same language, you could feel the excitement in the air,” said one teacher.
A camper agreed. “This is so much fun!”
After a day at CitySoil, campers learned how King County protects the health of everyone living in their new home base. They lent a helping hand to harvest healthy food for families just like theirs. And they found out that fresh raspberries are just as tasty as s’mores.
Watch a video about CitySoil: