Getting Crafty with Firehouse Art Center
On Saturday, children of all ages gathered at the Kids Corner at the Longmont Farmers Market to make this week’s craft – a leaf with a three-dimensional ladybug glued on top. They carefully cut green paper into leaves, folded the ladybug’s wings, and adhered the little bug to its natural landing spot while their little siblings walked through hula hoops scattered around the tent. Thanks to staff and volunteers from Firehouse Art Center, many of these kids enthusiastically tag along with their parents to the farmers market each week, eagerly awaiting their weekly activity.
Elaine Waterman, Executive Director of Firehouse Art Center, began putting together these crafts for the Longmont and Boulder Wednesday Farmers Markets in 2020. Since sharing art supplies between dozens of kids wasn’t possible during the pandemic, they came up with the idea for take-home kits that gave children the supplies and instructions they would need to do crafts at home. “Three years later, those kids have grown up to expect the crafts: I come, I create something, and that’s what I do,” said Waterman.
Not Just Creation, But Education, Too
The craft activities created by Firehouse Art Center are much more than just a way to keep children busy when they visit the farmers market. The crafts rotate through three different mediums: painting, cutting, and creating 3D art. For example, painting and cutting help build finger strength and dexterity, preparing young children for writing. Plus, it’s a weekly invitation to use their imagination and tap into their natural creativity in a safe and social environment.
Firehouse Art Center ensures the activities promote the mission of the farmers markets by educating young children about nature, food, and agriculture. “We try to make the crafts focused on what’s seasonal,” said Waterman. “It could be focused on weather, gardening, produce, bees, worms, or soil.” Some of the crafts this season have included paper onions, clay garden markers, and printed honeybees. As the children gather around the table to make their crafts, it provides an excellent opportunity to talk about where their food comes from and how nature and food intersect. “That connection to the land is harder and harder to have as kids as surrounded by technology,” explained Waterman. “It’s important to keep that connection going and to have a physical representation of that. Having the crafts circle back to local agriculture and supporting local farms is really important to us,” she added.
Creating Community Spaces Through Art and Creativity
The Kids Corner is a natural extension of Firehouse Art Center’s mission to inspire cultural awareness and human connection by providing life-enhancing experiences through art. In addition to supporting the Kids Corner every week, Firehouse Art Center hosts art classes at their studio at 4th and Coffman in downtown Longmont and coordinates the Summer on the Streets events. Their annual event, ArtWalk on Main, is coming up on Saturday, September 9, and will have over 100 booths featuring local artists, businesses, and nonprofits.
In addition to hosting accessible art classes and free community events, Firehouse Art Center works with local organizations for outreach classes designed to serve under-resourced members of the community. They partner with St. Vrain Valley School District, CASA de la Esperanza, and the University of Colorado to create safe spaces for children and teens to express themselves through art. “My main goal is creating a space where people can come together to express themselves,” said Waterman. “The firehouse is where you can find your people and share who you are.”
You can learn more about Firehouse Art Center by visiting their website.
Back to School Recipe: Homemade Pizza Sauce
If homemade pizza night is in your repertoire of school night meals, try taking it up a level by making your own pizza sauce with fresh tomatoes. This recipe, adapted from The Parent Spot, should make enough sauce for four 12-inch pizzas.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups of fresh tomatoes, seeded and cubed
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
A pinch of sugar
In a medium pot, heat the olive oil to medium low.
Saute garlic for 3 or 4 minutes.
Add tomatoes, salt, basil and oregano to pot and simmer for 30 minutes.
Add a pinch of sugar halfway through cooking, to taste.
Use a hand blender to mix to your desired consistency.