Below is an excerpt from the June issue of the Bay Farm Beat...
Agriculture in the classroom encompasses a program that delivers a diverse curriculum that incorporates life science, animal husbandry, environmental awareness, conservation, and health and wellbeing, where students can access both a prepared environment inside and outside the classroom with animals and plants. Here at Bay Farm, students are provided with the tools to become educated consumers and conscientious stewards of their environment. Collaborating with fellow educators and supporting core concepts, the agricultural program allows students the opportunity to apply existing knowledge to new situations and to be comfortable with their natural environment.
Children’s House began the second half of the academic year by studying the changes in winter. This included winter weather observation, animal behavior through migration, hibernation, adaptation, and the dormancy of plants in northern climates. Following the classroom curriculum on nutrition, children learned about healthy plants and foods that give our bodies strength, what foods have less energy, and how healthy foods come from farms. To illustrate the farm-to-table concept, children were allowed to churn their own butter and eat their own product! As the year progressed into spring, students had the opportunity to felt beads of alpaca wool, learn about pollination, plant seeds, go on a bug hunt to learn more about beneficial insects, and explore the concept of photosynthesis.
Elementary I began the second half of the academic year exploring nature in winter. Students learned how to identify trees using bark rubbings and bud identification, creating thoughtful winter journals. We explored animal adaptations and behavior, including hibernation and migration. Students then turned their attention to the weather, what influences the weather, how it impacts erosion, and how we can harness and use its energy. As the year progressed, we turned our attention to food mapping, the history of food preservation, vermiculture, and insect identification. When the weather permitted, students always enjoyed the opportunity to help out on the farm. They participated in chores such as hay removal, composting, egg collecting, pruning, routine animal care, and vegetable propagation.
Elementary II started the new year investigating trees in winter and how to identify different species by bark rubbings and bud differentiation. They were introduced to winter pruning and how this helps the well-being and growth of our orchard trees come spring and summer. Here they experienced a hands-on tutorial on how to effectively prune branches and which ones to discard. We then turned our attention to the digestive system to align with their science curriculum and investigated the evolution of chemical breakdowns in the mouth and digestive tract. Students then took a look at food preservation through the ages and were able to make their own jam. As the year progressed, students explored groundwater pollution by constructing their own “Terra-Aqua” towers, learned the history of potatoes and planted four portable containers full, had a lesson on identifying and foraging spring forest plants, and constructed three-dimensional dioramas of ecosystems displaying both abiotic and biotic factors.
Middle School entered the second half of the academic year studying indoor composting using vermiculture. They investigated the benefits of using worms to break down food stuffs to acquire nutrient-rich worm castings. They measured the growth of the boxes and the health of the worms throughout the year. They explored planting zones and learned how to choose crops according to specific zones in the United States. Students then applied this knowledge to planning which crops worked the best in what season for our future communal raised beds. They also studied soil health and nutrient management, taking various samples and testing with various methods the content and mineral makeup of each. We took a look at nutrition and food preservation, making our own soft cheese, then partook in a beginner lesson on forest foraging exploring which plants are edible and which are not. They explored ecosystems and habitats and the importance of balance between abiotic and biotic factors, and they had a course in soap making, turning out beautiful soaps that they sold to support their micro-economy. In between these lessons, students took great care in managing the animal paddocks, shelters, and animals themselves. They were also busy constructing and planting the communal raised beds and maintaining seedlings and young plants.
To learn more about Bay Farm and our specialist programs, contact our Director of Education, Kelley Collins at KelleyC@bfarm.org.