Skip links

Fresh & Local: Friday Farmstand with the Maples


The Maples Farmstand is open to the public for shopping every Friday from 10 AM to 2 PM. Treat yourself to freshly baked cookies and bread (with vegan options!), refreshing lemonade, and unique handcrafted items like tie-dyed bandannas and washcloths, candles, and herb bundles. And guess what? With every purchase, you’ll receive a free ICG sticker to spice up your bike, car, water bottle, or anywhere you like to add shine.

The Friday Farmstand at Ithaca Children’s Garden has become a weekly source of excitement and anticipation for the Maples campers (ages 10-12). Kenley, ICG’s Youth Program Educator and the Maples camp leader, understands the value of giving them free rein, allowing the Maples to explore their entrepreneurial spirit and learn essential skills in business management. While few restrictions exist, the campers revel in this newfound freedom and use it to explore their interests. All the campers find their place and actively take on roles, from decorating the board and writing the menu to becoming advertising maestros; the Maples collaborate and collectively contribute to running the Farmstand. 

A few of the Maples had this to say about their experience interacting with customers and younger campers: 

“I enjoy how free it is; you can do what you want. There are a few restrictions, but not many. And like so many people can come here, and I’ve made so many friends here. It’s a very nice place, and I enjoy it.”

Maple Camper

“I really like the Farmstand. You become part of the Maples and bond with the people in your group. Like yesterday, I didn’t talk with many people in my group, but now I’m talking with more people. 

Maple Camper

“We have more freedom, but we must still follow the rules. At other camps I’ve been to, it feels like school. But here, you’re working with the counselors to help the farm. It feels really good. You’re showing people this is a really good place to visit. Like, come to look at the pond, the flowers, the pond, and, of course, the giant stone turtle.”

Maple Camper

When asked about the skills they developed at the Farmstand, it became apparent there was a common theme regarding leadership: Many of the campers felt that Kenley’s leadership and their experience at the Farmstand were vital in shaping the kind of leader they want to be, especially when they join ICG next year as Counselors in Training (CIT). 

“We actually work with Kenley and not just do what he tells us,” said Renna, a first-time Maple camper and the Farmstand’s primary voice person for advertising to passersby this week. Renna explained what a leader should be: “You can’t force people to listen to you, so to be a leader, you must be nice to people and gain their trust. Which is not easy to do, but leading is not just ‘bossing people around’; it’s working with them.” 

Phoenix, a camper attending their seventh year at ICG and a potential CIT next summer, had a unique experience with Kenley as their Maple leader, describing how Kenley gave them an example of how they want to lead. “​​He makes activities fun, especially with his energy. If we don’t want to do something, we have options, and he asks us, ‘What do you want to do?’ which makes things more fun.”

Overall, the Farmstand is a unique platform that has proven to be a transformative experience for the Maples, uniting them through collaborative efforts and instilling valuable leadership skills. As the campers look forward to becoming future CITs, they are determined to carry Kenley’s inspiring leadership example forward.