Camp Notes Day 1 - Produce Project / Vegan Aioli

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Camp Notes Day 1 - Produce Project / Vegan Aioli


Today was the first day of our Farms, Food and Photography camp and we got to experience a bit of all three! Keep reading for more about our first day, including pictures and a recipe for vegan herb aioli!


Ellie started the day with a photo lesson on composition and camera basics (we are using some really nice Canon Rebel SLR cameras that The Arts Center provides). She talked about how we "see" the world with our cameras and stressed the importance of "show, don't tell"! We learned that ISO is a very important camera function that controls how the camera deals with light. For example, if the ISO is set at a low number the camera is less sensitive to light (has a slower shutter speed) and takes finer grain photos. If the ISO is set high, the shutter speed increases and the photos are a bit grainier, but they're less likely to turn out blurry even if it's dark because the camera captures the photo quicker. When we were outside in the bright sunshine at the farm later we set our ISO to 100 and when we were in the kitchen it was at 800. We also learned that perspective is important and it's good to mix it up!

A Different Perspective


After lunch, it was time for our first farm tour! We put our cameras around our necks and walked up the hill to the Produce Project on Eighth Street - yes, there's a farm in Troy! The Produce Project is part of the Capital District Community Gardens, a nonprofit that manages 47 cooperative neighborhood food gardens in Albany, Rensselaer, and Schenectady Counties - providing more than 3,000 people with fresh veggies and an opportunity to get their hands dirty growing them! The Produce Project sits on a roughly one-acre plot overlooking the roofs of Troy and the busy traffic below. This small farm provides job training for students from Troy High School by giving them the opportunity to grown and market organic vegetables while being paid a stipend and a vegetable share.

By the time we hiked to the top of the hill, we were feeling a little hot, thirsty and in need of a break. Seeing the Produce Project farmers hard at work moving wheelbarrows of wood chips and weeding rows of vegetables in the sun gave us a new perspective, however. They were generous enough to take time out of their busy day to meet all of us and give us a tour of their high tunnels and vegetable patches. Ellie reminded us to take photos of the big, medium, and small picture - to capture the whole scene, a smaller part of the view, and even a "macro" shot, which on the camera is a function that allows you to take super close up photos with lots of clarity. Greens are very good subjects because they stay still for the most part.

kitchen photography

Produce from the farm is available at the Delmar Farmers Market and the Produce Project Farm Stand on the farm, as well as on the menu at the Hungry Fish restaurant and Dali Mamma Cafe. We were lucky to be able to buy some herbs right at the source to use back in the kitchen, where we were headed next. Back down the hill, we took a break in the air conditioning (feeling greatful) and then took the cameras into the kitchen for some chopping, blending and EATING! Here's the recipe for our aioli (a note: aioli is traditionally made with egg if making it from scratch, or mayonnaise if not. Ours substituted almonds for the creaminess that the egg usually provides, making it vegan - not to mention delicious):


(Vegan) Produce Project Herb Aioli

aioli exclamation3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup raw almonds
1/4 cup lemon juice
3-5 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 cup water
One handful of basil leaves
One handful of parsley leaves (about a cup)
7-10 chives
Fresh ground pepper

In a blender or food processor:

1) Add garlice and salt, pulse
2) Add almonds
3) Drizzle olive oil in a stream alternating with lemon juice
4) Add herbs, blend or process for about one minute
5) Finish with another drizzle of olive oil (for creaminess)
6) Plate, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt (for looks!) and DIG IN! (we used crackers as our vehicle, the options are nearly endless).

- Holly

All photos in this post by Ellie Markovitch. Check out our Facebook page for more photos from the camp! Be sure to join us for the opening reception of the kids' photos. You can read more about The Arts Center on their website.

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