LAWRENCE (Mercer) — With only a couple of months to go until summer, lots of Jersey parents are making plans to send their kids to tennis or soccer camp or perhaps even science camp.

But how about farm camp?

A growing number of New Jersey farms are offering programs to teach children all about life on the farm.

According to Elaine Madigan, the assistant operations manager and camp director at Terhune Orchards, the idea for farm camp was an outgrowth of education programs the farm presented for school children throughout the year.

She said kids ages 7 to 11 can attend a weekly farm day camp during the summer. Now there’s a special version of farm camp for 12-year-olds called farm explorers, which delves into the science and STEM activities that are farm related.

She said kids learn “how crops grow, and then we also harvest things in season to cook and prepare their afternoon snacks. Zucchini pancakes are a huge hit.”

“They understand the planting process, and then take it all the way through the growing and harvesting.”

According to Madigan, children seem to love spending time on a farm.

“What really surprised me early on was how they love to weed and get in there and get dirty. They like composting and interacting with worms and insects,” she said.

Another benefit of spending a week on a farm is letting kids get a sense of the way life used to be for the children of yesteryear.

“They didn’t have video games to play, they had chores to do. And our kids here at the farm really get into doing the chores around the farm. We teach them from the get-go that no farms, no food, no people.”

She noted Terhune Orchards has solar panels on the roofs of many buildings. “So we really get into not only getting your fingers dirty, but what kind of impact you can have on your community to keep it healthy, green and going.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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