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Bellingham farm camp for kids is moving to WWU

Laura Plaut, director of Farm Camp at Bobbibrook Farm, shows a nervous Iris Hicks, 7, a baby turkey and asks if Hicks would like to hold it June 23, 2011 in Fairhaven. The camp, put on by the nonprofit Common Threads Farm to educate children about where their food comes from, is moving to Western Washington University's Outback Farm.
Laura Plaut, director of Farm Camp at Bobbibrook Farm, shows a nervous Iris Hicks, 7, a baby turkey and asks if Hicks would like to hold it June 23, 2011 in Fairhaven. The camp, put on by the nonprofit Common Threads Farm to educate children about where their food comes from, is moving to Western Washington University's Outback Farm. The Bellingham Herald

A nonprofit that teaches children about their food from seed to table is moving from its home of five years in Happy Valley to the Outback Farm on the Western Washington University campus.

That means Common Threads Farm will have its summer programs for kids ages 3 to 12 at WWU’s Fairhaven College.

The move will allow Common Threads to strengthen its ties with WWU. Up to 30 students each year fulfill their service learning or internship requirements by working with Common Threads’ educational programs.

“They are so much of the heartbeat of Common Threads,” founder Laura Plaut said of the students.

Up to 300 children go through the summer programs, where they learn about healthy food by gardening, cooking and caring for animals through Farm Camp, Camp Pizza and Camp Pasta.

Plaut said the “fun camp experience” is a “chance for kids to feel that eating healthy is fun and normal and cool.”

What they learn has “an impact on long-term eating behaviors at home,” she added.

The summer programs had been at Bobbibrook Farm in Happy Valley. The property was owned by Bobbi Vollendorff, who is turning the space into a community garden for area residents.

Parents who liked the summer camp space at Bobbibrook will “love us more at the Outback,” Plaut said.

“They should expect a lot of the same in terms of a really magical space that is still bus, bike, foot and car accessible. They should expect some real enhancement in the learning space,” she added, referring to things such as a sheltered classroom, trails for nature exploration and an amphitheater.

And having Common Threads on campus will continue Fairhaven College’s long tradition of multigenerational learning, said Jack Herring, dean for the college.

“It’s another opportunity to interact with the community and the community to interact with us,” Herring said.

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