Open House this Sunday, March 15th

Stop by The Nature Place any time between 1 and 4 pm this Sunday, March 15th to learn more about camp! After a rainy day Saturday we might even spot the first crocus of spring reaching toward Sunday’s sunshine from under the melting blanket of snow.

Open House this Sunday

Join us at our open house this Sunday, February 15th. Stop by any time between 1 and 4 pm to speak with us about camp, go on a tour (we’ll be sure to visit the warm garden greenhouse for a respite from the cold), and to learn more about The Nature Place Day Camp.

Hiking in Harriman last summer

Hiking in Harriman last summer

Upcoming Camp Fairs in NYC

Come see us at one of our camp fairs in Manhattan and Brooklyn this coming weekend, February 7th and 8th!

On Saturday we’ll be at the Bank Street School, 610 West 112th Street in Manhattan, between Noon and 3 pm.

Saturday you can also come see us in Brooklyn, at PS 321’s Summer Camp Expo, between 2 and 5 pm. The address is 180 7th Avenue, between 1st and 2nd Streets in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

On Sunday you can find us again in Brooklyn, this time in Cobble Hill at the Brooklyn Heights Montessori School, 9 Bergen Street, between Boerum Place and Court Street, between Noon and 3 pm.

 

 

 

Winter Tales with Chuck Stead

What is the Secret of Snow Plow Hill?

Join The Nature Place this Saturday, January 17th, from Noon – 1 pm, as we listen to Chuck Stead’s winter tales.

We’ll meet downstairs in the lower school music room of Green Meadow Waldorf School, 307 Hungry Hollow Road, Chestnut Ridge, NY, 10977.

Events, Open Houses, & Camp Fairs

Beginning after the new year we’ll be hosting public programs for campers and their families, and for anyone else interested in experiencing a ‘taste of camp’ before summer begins.

Winter Tales with Chuck Stead
Saturday, January 17th. Noon – 1 pm.

Chuck

Chuck

Chuck Stead is a master storyteller, weaving a web of characters and scenes from his childhood growing up in the nearby Ramapo Mountains. Populated by animals, spirits, mountain people, and more, Chuck’s tales are knee-slapping, laugh-out-loud funny, goose-bump inducing in their poignancy, and enjoyed thoroughly by children and adults alike.

Maple Sugaring
Saturday, February 28th. 10 – 11 am and 2 – 3 pm.

Sap sucker

Sap sucker

Join The Nature Place as we learn all about maple trees and maple syrup, tap our own trees and taste the sap, watch sap boiling over a fire, and then taste freshly made, hot maple syrup over ice (accompanied by a dill pickle, of course). Participants will take home their own spouts, along with instructions on how to tap maple trees and make syrup at home.

This year we’re offering this program twice, once at 10 am and then again at 2 pm. 

Outragehisss Pets
Saturday, March 28th. Noon – 1 pm.

Holding a python

Holding a python

If you like animals, then this program will have you barking, chirping, and roaring with glee. Every summer at camp Outragehisss Pets brings their multitude of animals to The Nature Place, and now you can get your hands furry without waiting until June. Join us for an hour of snakes, spiders, chinchillas, and an array of other surprising animals.

Spring Peeper Hunt
Saturday, May 2nd. 7:30 – 9 pm.

Peep!

Peep!

As darkness falls The Nature Place will lead intrepid explorers into the swamp in search of spring peepers – tiny frogs with big voices pealing out into the warm spring air. Using our ears and echo-locating abilities, and equipped with boots, flashlights, and a sense of adventure, we’ll search for spring peepers by following the loud ‘peep!’ of their mating call through the hillocks and brambles of a nearby wetland. Come prepared to have fun and get a little dirty!

 

Open Houses

The best way to learn more about The Nature Place is by coming to an open house. We’ll take you on a tour of camp, give you a full picture of what we do and why we do it, and answer your questions about the ins and outs of camp.

Open Houses are located at Green Meadow Waldorf School, 307 Hungry Hollow Road in Chestnut Ridge, NY, and you can stop by any time between 1 and 4 pm.

Saturday, January 17th
Sunday, February 15th
Saturday, February 28th (this open house runs from 11 am – 2 pm)
Sunday, March 15th
Saturday, March 28th
Sunday, April 12th
Sunday, April 26th
Saturday, May 9th
Sunday, May 24th

 

Camp Fairs

Do you live in Manhattan or Brooklyn and want to find out more about The Nature Place? Come meet us at a camp fair, ask us questions about camp in person, and get a feeling for what we do. All camp fairs run from Noon until 3 pm.

Saturday, December 6th
Upper East Side – St. Jean Baptiste High School
173 East 75th Street

Sunday, December 7th
Upper West Side – Ethical Culture Fieldston School
33 Central Park West

Saturday, January 24th
Upper East Side – St. Jean Baptiste High School
173 East 75th Street

Sunday, January 25th
Upper West Side – Congregation Rodeph Sholom
7 West 83rd Street

Saturday, February 7th
Morningside Heights – Bank Street School
610 West 112th Street

Sunday, February 8th
Cobble Hill – Brooklyn Heights Montessori School
185 Court Street

Saturday, March 7th
Tribeca – Borough of Manhattan Community College
199 Chambers Street

Saturday, March 8th
Park Slope – Berkeley Carroll School
181 Lincoln Place

Saturday, March 28th
Upper East Side – St. Jean Baptiste High School
173 East 73rd Street

Sunday, March 29th
Upper West Side – Congregation Rodeph Sholom
7 West 83rd Street

Cider Pressing Program & Open House

During this fall season our events are all about pressing apples into cider. We made some delicious cider recently at the Hungry Hollow Co-op’s Farmer’s Festival and Green Meadow’s Fall Fair, and will be making our best batch yet (we hope!) at our upcoming pressing program at camp.

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Wild and Edible Milkweed

Milkweed

Milkweed

One of the things I love most about this month is the appearance of Milkweed plants. These miracles of nature contribute so much to our world that they deserve far more respect than we give them. They are the major food source for the Monarch butterfly. Millions of these majestic little creatures migrate every year between the USA and Mexico. However, so many of the milkweed plants have been killed off in recent years that it has seriously diminished the Monarch population.

Monarch butterfly on a milkweed plant

Monarch butterfly on a milkweed plant

For this reason, I am very cautious about harvesting milkweed as food. In May, I harvest the shoots, knowing that the plant will reestablish itself, so long as I leave the root intact. Even then, I am careful not to pick too many. The cooked shoots (with the leaves removed) taste a lot like asparagus. The leaves too can be cooked and eaten, much like spinach.

Milkweed shoot noodles

Milkweed shoot noodles

The next parts of the plant that are edible are the flower buds. Each plant has several clusters of flowers, but I’ll rarely remove more than one bunch from a plant, to ensure there’s enough for it to reproduce. The unopened blossoms can be cooked and used in place of peas or capers, or used to decorate dishes. Once opened, the flowers make a nice addition to salads and soups or a garnish.

Sauteed milkweed pods

Sauteed milkweed pods

Once the flowers have gone, they leave behind seed pods, which are crunchy and delicious. However, after a couple of weeks, they become tough and inedible. I only gather pods when there are a lot of them, as this is the most important part to protect. Once they have ripened and the seeds turn brown, the pods split and allow the seeds to escape on the wind. That is a good time to gather them, if you want to start growing your own plants.

Milkweed pods

Milkweed pods

The silky parachutes that carry the seeds, provide a very effective tinder for starting a flame, using flint and steel or a bow drill. The stem of the older plants can be stripped of its outer layer, which can be twisted into twine, and used to make the bow. So, from the time it first appears, until the plant dies off, it can be used in a number of ways, not to mention that the sap is very effective for removing warts.

 

Paul Tappenden is the Rockland Forager. He leads identification walks once a month in our area. See regularly updated blogs, videos, events, and what he and other foragers, herbalists, and naturalists are up to at www.suburbanforagers.com.

Hunting Spring Peepers

Walking up to the farm on a balmy evening in early May, the night is relatively quiet. The only sound besides our feet on the earth is that of a few drops of water, leftover from rain earlier in the day, dripping from new leaves to the ground beneath them. But as we crest the hill, the farm house and cow pasture at the end of the lane ahead of us, we start to hear them, the raucous singers of spring. ‘Peep…eep…PEEP!..Pee..Peep!’

We get closer, and this nighttime chorus becomes so loud we have to raise our voices in speaking to one another in order to hear ourselves talk. The marshy, wooded little pond next to the farm is a home for spring peepers, the tiniest of vernal vocalists emitting their proportionally LOUD mating calls, attracting froggy partners as well as us curious humans.

Peeper Hunt - Caught in the middle of a peep

Garbed with a good pair of boots, flashlights, and a sense of adventure, we’ll be taking our annual pilgrimage to the citadel of springtime, the peeper pond next to Duryea Farm, on Saturday evening, May 3rd, beginning at 7:30 pm. This event is for children with their parents, as the night is dark, the path is brambly, and ‘hunting’ for spring peepers is an endeavor that requires care, patience, and helpful, watchful eyes.

We’ll meet in front of the lower school at Green Meadow, 307 Hungry Hollow Road, in Chestnut Ridge, NY to begin our adventure.

Adventure into the wild with us on our Spring Peeper Hunt!

Peeper Hunt - Mother and Sons

Food and Drink: Dandelions

I have long been a fan of Dandelions.  Whereas most gardeners dread the sight of dandelions in their yard, I have actually planted them in mine.  From the time that the basal rosettes first appear in the spring until the ground turns hard with winter frosts, I find ways of making use of this versatile plant.  At this time of year, before the flowers appear the leaves of the dandelion are mild and tender, ideal for eating raw.  Dandelion greens can be used in place of spinach in most cooked recipes.

Dandelion flower scones

Dandelion flower scones

Once the flowers bloom, the leaves become rather bitter, but can be boiled to make them more palatable.  However, at that time of year, I concentrate more on gathering the flower heads, which I immediately freeze and save until I have enough to stuff a gallon ziplock bag.  I give these to my friend Elana, who makes an outrageous dandelion wine every year.  It tastes like a fine sherry.  Naturally, she saves a bottle for me.

Dandelion root curry

Dandelion root curry

The petals and stamens of dandelions also make a potent yellow/green dye, good for dying Easter eggs.

The roots can be gathered at almost any time and cooked in many different ways, however, in the fall, I look for the older plants and dig the roots for making dandelion coffee.  I grind, dry and roast them until they turn a dark brown, much like regular ground coffee.  The resultant drink looks and tastes a lot like coffee, with added notes of chocolate and caramel.  The roots can also be used for making dyes, and produce either red or pink (also useful for dying eggs)

Dandelion coffee

As well as their use as food and dyes, dandelions make good medicine to help tonify the kidneys and liver and to help encourage the flow of urine, helping to lower blood pressure.  The leaves in particular aid the digestive system and stimulate appetite. They are rich in minerals and vitamins (including A, B2, C and K).

Just to further illustrate the Dandelion’s amazing versatility, even the white milky latex has its uses.  Applied regularly to a wart, the rubbery latex will ultimately remove it altogether (never to return).

Paul Tappenden is the Rockland Forager. He leads identification walks once a month in our area. See regularly updated blogs, videos, events, and what he and other foragers, herbalists, and naturalists are up to at www.suburbanforagers.com.

Play Games! and Open House

Great, galloping, goofy, gratifying games! At The Nature Place we play games that are cooperative rather than competitive, which means we all have fun, play hard, play fair, usually laugh a lot, and everyone gets included. Join us as we play some of the games we love to play at camp.

Stick around for our open house to learn more about the ins and outs of being a camper at The Nature Place.

Saturday, April 19th from 11 am until Noon we’ll be playing games.
Our open house will be after that from 1-4 pm.

307 Hungry Hollow Road, Chestnut Ridge, NY 10977.

Play Games!