July 29 - August 8, 2020
Organic Odyssey takes us on a journey from seed to plate. We gather in Chicago, and head to the massive dunes, beaches, and coastline of southwest Michigan. Here we'll explore orchards, farms, and markets, and learn how our "chow" makes its way from field to market. Our experience extends beyond organic farming to investigating beekeeping practices and engaging with local artists, educators, and entrepreneurs in this inviting community. Our adventure continues through the lakes, rivers, and trails as we embark on a sunset sail on the Mishigami, the Ojibwe word for "great water," kayak the Kalamazoo River, where Osprey and Eagles are often found hunting and nesting, and bike the Kal-Haven Trail through woods, farmland, and small towns.
As a quiet, shy, small girl, this was incredibly far out of my comfort zone. In the least cliche way possible, that trip changed my life. It changed my outlook on the world, on the way I saw myself, on the way I thought about others. -RLT alumna
Keep scrolling to learn more about this high school farm to table community service and adventure program in Michigan!
Saugatuck Dunes State Park offers 1,000 acres, 14 miles of hiking trails, 200-foot-high dunes, and a secluded 2.5 mile stretch of shoreline to roam freely by foot or by dune buggy.
Learn to Stand Up Paddle Board as you glide across the expansive beaches of Holland State Park.
This stretch of serene waters is the ideal location to observe animals in the wild and spend the day taking in the natural beauty.
Explore the “Third Coast” of the United States, the 6th largest lake in the world, and the only Great Lake located entirely in the US. Lake Michigan is home to the largest freshwater dune system in the world and home to 1,400 miles of pristine shoreline.
What makes a farm organic and how can we support local farmers? We explore these questions and more as we work alongside local organic farmers and learn how our food goes from seed to plate.
This beautiful bike trail links the city of South Haven to Kalamazoo crossing charming countryside and tree-lined orchards. The trail is harmoniously shared by bikers, hikers, and the occasional horseback rider.
Tackle the seven different obstacle courses among the treeline at an aerial adventure park in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Take in the beautiful scenery while you challenge yourself mentally and physically.
Meet, learn from, and cook with a master chef, entrepreneur, and educator as she teaches us her philosophy on cooking and shares her dedication to serving food from local farmers.
#9 Imagine Art
Visit a beautiful barn built in 1880, where creativity comes to blossom. String some beads into a bracelet, throw a ceramic pot on the wheel, construct a mosaic, and find what fuels you.
Environmental Community Service: Partner with a local organic farm and help with the planting and harvesting of vegetables.
A Certificate of Community Service indicating the total hours worked and a Presidential Volunteer Service Award will be issued upon successful completion of the program.
8 - 12
Lodging is in a private home. Bedrooms will be divided by gender and participants will sleep slumber party style – in sleeping bags, rotating available beds nightly. Showers are available; however, we shower every three to four days to conserve resources and support sustainability.
Chicago, IL O'Hare (ORD)
Arrival (Day 1):
All arrive in Chicago, IL. Depart for home base in Southwest Michigan.
Take a bike ride through a scenic section of the Kal-Haven Trail, a former railroad linking South Haven to Kalamazoo. After we ride, we’ll explore Mount Baldhead Park and climb the 300 steps to see birds-eye views of the Kalamazoo River.
Today, we head to Holland State Park to explore the sandy beaches and hit the water on our stand up paddle boards. In the afternoon, we’ll head to the North Ottawa Dunes to hike and enjoy the rugged scenery.
We’ll spend the first part of the day paddling around the Kalamazoo River, taking in the scenery and looking for Deer, Fox, Osprey and an amazing assortment of water fowl. In the afternoon, we’ll tap into our artistic side at the Art Barn working on projects such as ceramics, jewelry making, wood working, or whatever your heart desires.
Our time at the farm will be spent planting, harvesting, and assisting with prep to sell at the farmers market. We’ll learn about the methods, regulations, and processes it takes to make a healthy plant environment a priority. Our afternoons are spent attending a chocolate making class, visiting a blueberry farm, exploring Downtown Holland, and conquering a forest aerial course. At the end of our farm service week, we’ll enjoy a meal prepared with ingredients from many local farms, including some of what we have harvested ourselves!
In the morning, we’ll enjoy all that Saugatuck Dunes State Park has to offer. The park resides along a private strip of Lake Michigan coastline and provides 1,000 acres of land to explore. In the evening, we’ll set sail across Lake Michigan and enjoy panoramic views of the sunset.
To celebrate all we’ve accomplished together, we head to the Saugatuck Dunes to feel the wind in our hair as we traverse over the sand in a dune buggy! For dinner we’ll prepare a fresh meal with our Farmer’s Market finds and share a final banquet by campfire.
Head back to Chicago and say our goodbyes before catching flights home.
The Road Less Traveled does not require any vaccinations or immunizations to travel with us, other than an up-to-date tetanus shot or booster (within the last nine years).
If you’d like to receive an emailed copy of this program’s day-to-day calendar, please give our office a call anytime between 9am and 5pm CST at 773-342-5200, and we’ll happily send you one!
It is imperative that no one make any travel arrangements until RLT provides instructions for specific arrival and departure time windows. Those details are typically released in mid-spring.
Families are individually responsible for booking their own airfare to get their student from home to the starting destination on the first day of the trip, and from the ending destination back home on the last day of the trip.