Summer Farm Camp Designed to Empower Girls

By LEIGH VINCOLA/ecoRI News contributor

Tess Brown-Lavoie is one of three women farmers who are hosting the camp. (Sidewalk Ends Farm)

Tess Brown-Lavoie is one of three women farmers who are hosting the camp. (Sidewalk Ends Farm)

SEEKONK, Mass. — From Aug. 8-13, the all-female crew at Sidewalk Ends Farm will host its first summer farm camp. The one-week session is designed for eight high-school girls from Providence public schools.

Taking their inspiration from Girls Rock! Rhode Island, farmers Tess and Laura Brown-Lavoie and Sarah Turkus wanted to create a space where young girls could work together and learn from nature.

The eight campers have already been chosen, and the Sidewalk Ends Farm Camp is free to each of them. In an effort to raise the money to pay their campers and mentors a stipend, Sidewalk Ends is in the midst of a funding campaign.

Summer camp is a place to instill lifelong values in campers during the short time they are together. Most anyone who has been to camp, whether it be last summer or 30 years ago, will agree that their time there was meaningful. To impart even more significance to the experience, the Sidewalk Ends Farm Camp will follow daily themes, bringing in experts and guests from the community to help explore relevant topics.

The girls will meet at Sidewalk End Farm’s urban plot on the West Side of Providence and be bused to Seekonk, where they will take part in daily farm chores and cook a harvest meal together at lunchtime.

The week will start with the theme of women in agriculture and art, followed by herbalism and indigenous knowledge and racial injustice, and will end with mindfulness and bodies. Each day will touch on the female connection to the land and each other, and will address issues of equity, particularly recognizing that people of color are central to acquiring and passing on agricultural and environmental knowledge.

The week also will include field trips to other farms and to the Armory Farmers Market, where Sidewalk Ends Farm is a regular vendor. The girls will learn to harvest and prepare foods to eat and to sell.

The week will culminate in an overnight camp out on the farm, something that none of the girls have ever experienced before, the date coinciding with the Perseid meteor shower.

In addition to the three Sidewalk Ends farmers, the camp will be lead by two counselors, both of whom have been part of the farm camp vision from the beginning. The idea was born working together in the fields.

“Field work is a time of visioning,” Laura Brown-Lavoie said. “We spend a lot of time talking about the world we want to live in and we wanted to be able to share that experience with younger women.”

The goal of the camp isn’t necessarily to groom new farmers, but rather to foster a tradition of mentorship in an all-girls environment.