Back in August I had a really cool experience: I went to a Registered Dietitian (RD) “farm camp” up in Maryland!
Farm camp was billed as a functional nutrition and culinary retreat for nutrition professionals. It sounded interesting and like just the thing I’ve been missing during the past couple years of not a lot of in-person events.
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When I saw that we would receive 25 continuing education credits for attending, that sealed the deal for me and I immediately signed up.
(My Registered Dietitian credential is up for renewal next spring and I need a lot more continuing education credits between now and then as I usually rack up a lot of credits attending and speaking at conferences/workshops, but I haven’t been doing much of that recently!)
Farm camp was held at Catoctin Mountain Farm up in Maryland – an easy hour and 15 minute drive from the DC area. Perfect!
It was so beautiful up there and about 10 degrees cooler than DC as well, which made a big difference in August!
I first discovered farm camp as I know the host, Alison Sacks (pictured with me below), from the DC nutrition community back in the day.
She’s a fellow dietitian who lived in DC for many years before meeting her now husband, Nick, who owns the Catoctin Mountain Farm. And the rest is history!
Farm camp took place between two locations: Catoctin Mountain Farm and Zigbone Farm Retreat (pictured below), which is only a short drive from the farm and is where we all stayed and did our food and culinary experimentation.
It was a really cute spot – they host weddings and other events there year round!
I’ve been procrastinating writing this post a bit because we did SO much it felt overwhelming to try to cram it all into one blog post.
But, I’m going to do my best, and will just keep things high level and not too detailed in the interest of this post not being 234908203498230948 pages long. If you have any questions or want me to elaborate on anything, feel free to ask in the comments!
Also, I wanted to give a shout out to Kasey Kreit of Olivine Fox Photography – Alison hired her to join us at Zigbone on “all things sourdough” day to get some action shots, so any of the higher quality/non-iPhone photos in this post (like the ones above and below) are taken by her!
And one more shout out – if you’re a nutrition professional that is interested in attending farm camp yourself, there’s another one happening in October that still has a few spots left! Details here.
Dietitians flew in from all over the country for it – it was definitely not just for locals!
RD Farm Camp Recap
Without further ado, here are the highlights from farm camp!
1. Interacting with other dietitians
One of the best things about farm camp for me, besides all the fun culinary play and farm adventures (more on those in a minute), was simply chatting with the other dietitians in attendance!
We had a great group – there were almost 20 of us, which felt like the perfect size, and I really enjoyed learning what everyone did in the nutrition realm (I was one of the only blogger/media RDs in the group) and generally just getting re-excited about nutrition again.
(Those are Alison’s kids in the picture, in case you are wondering – they joined us for dinner the last night and were super cute!)
One of my best mom life friends, Jen, who is also a dietitian, was on the trip as well and was my roommate. So fun to have so much time to hang out with her!
She is also a yoga teacher and led anyone in the group who was interested in a yoga class each morning of the trip.
It was the most lovely way to start the day, especially because days 2 and 3 we took our mats outside and enjoyed the cool morning shade!
The last morning of the trip Jen and I did a short pre-yoga jog as well – the sun was just rising, it was cool and misty out, and it was just generally super gorgeous.
Hello, neighbor farm cows!
That mist – stunning!
I also especially enjoyed meeting Brandy, a fellow intuitive eating dietitian who works mainly in private practice. When we met she let me know that she was a blog reader who has been reading for many years, which was fun – and she recently started her own non-diet themed blog, too. It’s great – check it out!
(Rocking our name tags from the first day!)
There’s nothing quite like getting to interact with others in person who are passionate about the same things you are! It was super nice to connect.
2. Meeting lots of adorable farm animals
Living close to the city, I don’t exactly get to hang out with a lot of farm animals on a day to day basis, so I was excited to get to tour Catoctin Mountain Farm, meet their animals, and learn more about their (very responsible and compassionate – “beyond organic”, as they call it) farming practices.
We got to meet a lot of pigs!
Fun fact: we learned that when a pig has babies, any of the other moms who are also lactating will all help each other to feed the piglets. Also, if one piglet is in danger it doesn’t matter whose piglet it is, ALL the mama pigs will charge!
I love this. I could use a pig village in my life, anyone else?
Here’s the whole gang hanging out with the pigs!
We also got to meet some sweet Catoctin Mountain Farm goats:
And we took a hike around their property.
We ended with strawberry coconut milk popsicles and a tour of their veggie garden. Nice way to spend a morning!
On the last morning of our trip we also got to meet (and help feed) some baby goats from a neighboring farm. Sooo cute.
In case you’re wondering about the bottle, they will often bottle feed the runts of the litter as they don’t end up getting much chance to nurse because the others push them out of the way.
They were crazy strong – the bottle almost got pulled right out of my hand!
3. Lots of culinary play and learning about functional nutrition
We did ALL the things.
We had a sourdough day where we did all things sourdough, like making sourdough bread:
They came out so beautiful:
We also made sourdough pizza dough, and to go with it, homemade mozzarella cheese (SO flavorful):
Plus homemade sourdough pie crust, during which I discovered braiding a design onto the top of the pie is super fun:
And, like, maybe this should be my new full time career? Making cool shapes on top of pies? TBD. It was very calming and also fun.
Proud of this!
We also made some topical facial infusions. I went for the “calming” one, which had calendula, lavender, arnica flower, and aloe leaf in witch hazel.
And we made homemade soap!
Excited to use these at home.
4. THE FOOD! It was so good.
We ate so well while at farm camp – most everything was locally sourced, and while our group didn’t prepare the meals (one of Alison’s friends carried out almost all the food prep – she was amazing), we made some of the base ingredients for them (like the sourdough, etc.).
Here are the meals!
Sourdough bagels, eggs, Canadian bacon, yogurt, fresh fruit, and a drizzle of sprouted almond butter. The local peaches were phenomenal – I ate them as snacks most days, too!
Baked steel cut oatmeal, almond butter, berries, and yogurt.
Sourdough pancakes and waffles with peaches and almond butter, eggs, and breakfast sausage (from Catoctin Mountain Farm!).
BLTs on homemade sourdough bread with melon and mint salad, quinoa salad, and sauerkraut and pickled veggies.
Probably my favorite meal of the whole trip was this next lunch: lamb meatballs (amazing), falafel, quinoa salad, olives, cucumber tomato salad, and pita/hummus.
Alison also had a homemade lemony garlic sauce that we had with that lunch that was so PHENOMENAL that I ended up putting it on everything… it was so dang good.
To make it, she used 1 cup peeled garlic cloves, 3 cups avocado oil, 1/2 cup lemon juice, and 2 teaspoons of salt. Just process the garlic cloves with the salt, then add in a little oil at a time as you continue to process, then finish with the lemon juice until it’s all evenly incorporated.
Tacos with slow cooker pork carnitas, lentil salad (this was very yummy), slaw, and zucchini.
Corn, massaged kale salad, sausages with allllll the sauerkraut.
Plus some yellow watermelon – how fun is this?!
Homemade sourdough pizza night (with homemade mozzarella!):
Intense concentration all around:
Mine came out super yummy! Plus some unpictured salad.
Where the magic happened:
We also got to enjoy our homemade sourdough peach pie that night!
It was sooo good. I can take or leave chocolate (I know, weird), but I LOVE pie.
We also had some really good local wine each night, which I enjoyed!
Whew! What a fun few days. We were all sad to say goodbye!
I’m excited though as I’m going to a sort of mini farm camp in a couple weeks – my friend Sarah, who is also a dietitian and farmer, is hosting a one day “RD Day” at her farm, Gathering Springs, in Middleburg, VA.
It’s all about using farm-fresh ingredients and culinary skills to host food demonstrations, and there are CEUs involved as well! I’m excited about it. There are spots left if any of you are interested. 🙂
I’m planning to (finally) get on the Instagram Reels train, so I’m hoping it will give me some tips and inspiration for doing video-based food demos as well!