Fernbrook Videos!

A quick glance at Summer Camp!

Fernbrook Farms Summer Camp Video

Farmer “Q” talks about why nature is important to our youth.

A typical day at Fernbrook!

 

Spring Letter from Farmer Q

   Community: Webster’s dictionary lists six definitions; #1 – a group of people residing in the same location, #6 – common participation of a group. I like to think of community as something larger than ourselves; a group that embodies shared empathy, support, and openness. We wave to faces we recognize without knowing names. We offer help without asking for anything in return.

WE CARE Ribbons Fundraiser for Chesterfield Children

The responses to the recent tragedy in our township with the school bus exemplify what community is all about. There are blue and yellow ribbons all over New Jersey! Many of the families impacted by the accident are part of the Fernbrook family. But whether or not they have ever been to Fernbrook, we extend to each of them our prayers and best wishes as they endure the many challenges of rebuilding.

     Winter is a great time for planning around Fernbrook and the past few months have been action packed for the Education Center. We’re especially excited about forming a partnership with the Bonner Foundation scholars and Bonner Center at The College of New Jersey. To see what the Bonner Foundation is all about, visit the Bonner Foundation website or Bonner Center website. Working together with Bonner, we plan to extend out Urban Initiatives with Trenton schools. At the same time, we’ve received a $25,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President’s Grant Fund of the Princeton Area Community Foundation which will enable us to develop programs and bring kids to the Farm from six schools in Trenton. We owe huge thanks to Shannan Gonzalez, a Fernbrook camp mom, for initiating the grant request with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. We’re always working on summer camp and making improvements to the physical plant. This year, as we mentioned in the Winter newsletter, we’re building a low ropes course that will be used by all groups coming to Fernbrook. The Kerney Barn, thanks to the continued support of the James Kerney Foundation, has heat installed and kitchen facilities for classes year round, as well as plans to develop after-school programs.
     Pretty soon the tents will be up, there’s some trail clearing to be done, and Miss Lydia is busy planting the Children’s Garden. The warm weather has jump-started our efforts and enthusiasm. Nature is busting out all over, creation at its finest. Let us give thanks to the Creator. Hope to see you soon.
- Larry “Farmer Q” Kuser

Camps at Fernbrook in all Seasons

Lately it is hard to tell what season it is here on the Farm some days but one thing is for certain – no matter what season it is, Fernbrook Farms Education Center provides camp days to help get kids unhooked from the tv, video games, computers and iPods and plugged into nature.

Fascinated by nature's designs

Our first day of Winter Camp on Martin Luther King, Jr Day was a wonderful mix of outdoor fun, animal time, relaxing by the crackling fireplace and enjoying special winter activities. We hiked through an area of Fernbrook forest that is rarely explored during summer camp and even found an animal skull along the way! Based on the size, location it was found and type of teeth it has, the group of camper detectives settled on a young fox as their conclusion. It is now on the well-known Discovery Table in the Kerney Learning Barn for all to see. The weather was cold but not frigid and the campers discovered lots of fascinating ice designs and even some interesting sounds made by ice on the irrigation pond. Other activities for the day included: feeding the animals, roasting marshmallows over the fire in the cottage, making winter bird feeders to hang in the Fernbrook Rain Garden and on the Great Lawn, played a survival game and stayed warm!

We have more Winter Break Camp to come on President’s Day Feb 20th, 2012 when students are off of school and Spring Break Camp is scheduled for April 9th, 10th, 11th as well as April 23rd and 24th, 2012 to accommodate all our faithful summer camp families. For more details about what we do during Winter and Spring Break Camps, visit the Education Center website. Registration forms can be printed and mailed to reserve a spot for your child(ren) to plug into nature with us during a day off of school. Doesn’t it make parents want to take the day off and explore Fernbrook with us also?!?!

And if all this camp talk hasn’t gotten you excited enough about spending time at Fernbrook, maybe a little reminiscing will help with a 2011 Summer Camp Video. It’s worth the time and makes us laugh every time but you might need your campers to interpret the inside jokes so have them join you to watch these summer camp memories!

We hope to see you soon at Fernbrook Farms Education Center!

Letter From Farmer Q

Dear Friends, 
  Technology is a wonderful thing – especially when it works! You’ve probably experienced the frustration of your computer not working the way you want it to or your GPS taking you down the wrong road. ‘Smart’ technology vs. dumb people?! It seems to me that the challenge is to balance all this technology with human relationships. Not only relationships with each other, but with our communities, our land, our food, our environment. 
   Like in so many other places, technology becomes more and more a part of Fernbrook all the time. We use email and Facebook to send program and event updates rather than the postal service. We’re creating online registration for summer camp and eventually you’ll be able to pay for all programs online. Our solar array can be monitored online as well. We’ve planned several more improvements to our Kerney Barn thanks to the continued generous financial support of the James Kerney Foundation. This is what we might call low-tech: cooking appliances, biology, chemistry and physics lab equipment, projector and screen. 
   But the most important aspect of any of this technology at Fernbrook is to allow kids the opportunity to experience their wold firsthand. We want kids to build an Archimedes’ Screw (see article below), not just research it on the internet. We want them to catch a butterfly, dissect a fish, or unearth some creepy, crawly thing from a decomposing log. Children can touch, taste, smell and feel the real, not the virtual, at Fernbrook. They can develop a sense of wonder. They can challenge their curiosities through exploration and hands-on activities. 

Snowy Wedding Gardens
 
   As winter begins, we often think that our natural world becomes dull and uninteresting. Nature in winter can be a fascinating experience; it’s a different pace – slower, quieter – a valuable lesson in our fast paced, technological world. Put out a bird feeder, look for animal tracks, check out the night skies, and watch the sensational sunsets and sunrises we’ve had.
   During this holiday time of year, we are given the opportunity to stop, listen, see and act with compassion toward our neighbors and our world. May you and your family enjoy a happy and blessed season!
- Larry “Farmer Q” Kuser  

Exciting Camp News and Registrations

The Education Center is thrilled to announce a new structural addition to our facilities which should be completed before the start of Summer Camp 2010 – a low ropes challenge course! Project U.S.E will be constructing three different elements to be used during Monday morning team-building at Summer Camp and through the year for businesses, classes, and scout groups.  These elements will be built in the small meadow between the animal pasture and irrigation pond.  This is in addition to a few portable elements we have/are building and an exciting second grant from the Kerney Foundation to continue improving the classroom, kitchen and lab space in the Kerney Barn.

Along with these announcements, Fernbrook Farms Education Center welcomes all families to check out registration that is now open for our Fiddlehead Summer Day Camp for ages 6-11 and Young Stewards Summer Enrichment Program for ages 12-14. 

Looking for a birthday present for you child or grandchild? Consider giving a summer week or a few school vacation days of special memories, new experiences and friendships forged while exploring 230 acres of Fernbrook Farms.

So many discounts are available such as early registration discounts, sibling discount, returning camper discount, active military discount, and attend 4 or more weeks discount available as in the past.

This year we are also offering a special referral gift.  For each new family that writes your name on the “how did you hear about Fernbrook?” line of their registration form, we will award your family one camp t-shirt of any available size on your first day of camp this summer.  We will be holding three Summer Camp Open Houses for families who are new to Fernbrook to take a tour, meet staff, and learn about our program.  Past families can also come and see the changes.  Bring a new family along to meet the expected babies in the animal barn and get an introduction to 2012 camp.

Lastly, just a reminder that Winter Camp 2012 is held on Martin Luther King, Jr Day, as well as, President’s Day for kids to experience Fernbrook in the wonderful winter. Activities include animal tracking in the snow, winter bird watching, building survival shelters (with snow if we have some), caring for any early animal babies possibly and many other activities to enjoy winter on the Farm. Bring your children to Fernbrook to experience the wonders of Winter Camp with us when they don’t have school!

Supporter Appreciation Day

In preparing for our first Supporter Appreciation Day, it became astounding to us just how many of you there are who support Fernbrook Farms Education Center.  Over 300!!  From those who write us checks to volunteering your time to providing us with donations of materials – we truly appreciate each and every person who helps make this a special place for so many children.

New Fernbrook Outreach Program by Little Fish Theatre

 

The day itself could not have been better; sunshine, cool temperatures, great food and music. Everyone got to check out our rain garden, the solar system, and the Kerney Barn science lab. We got to sample the foot-stompin’, hand-clappin’, music of Little Fish Theatre.  We’re booking them all over the state as our outreach to promote Fernbrook Farms Education Center and get kids outdoors. Mr. Brian was MC for our hayride that ended up at the campfire ring for some good ole’ marshmallow roasting.

 

Farmer Q dedicating the Eric Tadlock Trail

We then took the haywagon to the pond, and everyone walked around the pond (no frogs this time of year) to the upper stream trail dedication – it’s now officially the Eric Tadlock Trail in recognition of his successful creation of the Fernbrook Education programs.

Everyone had a fun time. To those of you who could not attend, we say thank you for your support and invite you to visit the farm anytime. We’re excited about the future; many improvements are planned from a low ropes course to expanded animal barn to a weather station. It all happens thanks to you!

Not So Scary Halloween – Family event filling fast!

Fernbrook's Alternative to the Haunted Hayride

Fernbrook Farms Education Center is preparing for their annual Not So Scary Halloween event offered the next two weekends leading up to Halloween. This annual event is our way of offering more fun programs for families with little ones or not interested in the scary events. Each year there is a different story or characters to meet during a wagon ride around the farm. This year there is a new lighthearted story about the Jersey Devil complete with jokes or references to make him seem like any other animal we see on the farm. The evening will start with group games for all ages and then you’ll hear the story on the wagon ride while we travel toward the campfire site for marshmallows and songs to round out the evening.

Pre-registration is necessary so please call 609-298-4028 if you are interested. There are still spaces available on Friday Oct 21st but Saturday Oct 22nd and Saturday Oct 29th have filled to our two wagon capacity. The event is from 6:30-8:30pm and cost is $12/adult, $7/child 4-12 years and Free for children 3 and younger. Bring your cameras and we’ll take your family picture at our fall photo spot on the haybales with cornstalks and pumpkin decorations. Costumes encouraged but no masks allowed please for the sake of being extra fun and not scary for anyone!

If you can’t make it this year, check back in 2012 for more Halloween fun and see what is changed for the story and wagon ride!

Fall 2011 Letter from Farmer Q

One of the fun things around Fernbrook is that we’re always becoming. There’s never a dull moment. We’re always looking for new programs to add, ways to improve existing programs or expand in different directions. All of this is because of the energy and enthusiasm of the staff, their willingness to try new things and explore possibilities. Wendell Berry has said that one of the greatest challenges of agriculture is how do you stay in one place and grow; intellectually, creatively, emotionally. Here at Fernbrook, we strive to meet that challenge everyday.

Jenna Collins, who came to us this year as a summer camp instructor, is now on our year-round staff coordinating our Unit of Study programs with the City of Trenton at-risk youth and running our School Field Trip programs. Last year we worked with four schools in Trenton; this year we’re targeting six schools. We’ll also be attending the NJEA Conference in November, part of our marketing program to bring more schools to Fernbrook, exposing more kids to agriculture, the sources of their food, and making choices for a healthy lifestyle.

New plans on the horizon include more fully developing our rain garden and making it part of our curriculum. Also, we should have our solar energy monitor up and running soon so all can see the extent of the sun’s energy on the Farm. Alternative sources of energy are always important at Fernbrook so we are looking into other projects using wind and water as our source. We’re hoping to develop a weather station as well; a great teaching tool for children to study and experience firsthand. We’re also working on the Kerney Barn to be able to have cooking classes and do science experiments. I think Wendell Berry would be proud of us!

As always, we welcome your ideas and suggestions. If you can introduce us to people or companies that share our interests, if you want us to get involved with your children’s school, or the big IF, if you can help us with grants or donations for any of our projects, we are always grateful.

Lots of events happening at Fernbrook as we approach the holidays. Hope to see you soon for a little fun on the Farm! God Bless.

- Larry “Farmer Q” Kuser, Executive Director