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Born in the US, raised on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, lived in Italy, the US, and Canada. Lover of language, travel, colour, and the natural world.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Day on the farm

This photograph is the property of Ariana Salvo. May not be reprinted without consent.
Yesterday I spent the morning on Soil Born Farm assisting with a field trip of 25 second graders. I love that age group. They are so inquisitive and pure-hearted--so full of joy and excitement for life. Before the kids arrived we chopped up carrots and peppers from the garden to use in lettuce wraps that we were going to have the kids dip in humus.

At the appointed time the yellow school bus rumbled down the driveway onto the farm, and the kids tumbled out. They were accompanied by their teacher and four chaperones, and the enthusiastic bus driver ended up joining us as well!

We started the day as we always do -- getting to know the kids and then having them come up with a list of safety agreements that we write up on a whiteboard while the kids sit in a semi-circle around us on hay bales. Once we had our agreements, we headed off for a tour of the farm, stopping to visit the pigs, and watch them roll in the mud to cool down, the chickens that were pecking around their mobile enclosure, the cows and the sheep. Once we had visited all the animals we headed over to the youth garden and divided up into two groups. Guy planted cover crop in small peat cups with half the group, and the other half came to learn about peppers with me, and to make carrot and pepper wraps that they got to eat sitting on tree stumps that we have sitting in a circle at the far end of the garden.

The kids saw a real baby rabbit that was jumping around the garden, and got to harvest some vegetables (some, for the first time ever). They also got to learn about all the different varieties of peppers and tomatoes we grow in the garden. I was incredibly impressed with their ability to remember all the names of the peppers by the time they got back on the school bus. For some of the kids this was also the first time they had eaten lettuce wraps. Watching kids taste fresh vegetables in the garden in which they were grown is something special. For a generation of kids most of whom have no idea where their food comes from, taking a field trip to a farm like Soil Born can be life-changing.

This photograph is the property of Ariana Salvo. May not be reprinted without consent
At the end of the day we walked the kids down to the river to learn about the importance of river water to successful farming and healthy eating. We had to cross the bike path on the way to the river, which has professional cyclists whooshing past every few minutes at very high speeds, so the kids got a lesson in crossing a bike path! Although most of these kids live with 30 minutes of the American River, many of them had never actually visited it before. Seeing so much water rushing past is a really exciting experience if you have never done it before. The kids wanted to put their hands in the cold water, find frogs hiding along the banks of the river, and chase lizards. Watching them reminded me once again how vital regular exposure to the natural world from a young age is in shaping a person's life and values. I am curious to see how the experience of visiting the farm as children influences these kids' eating habits in the future, and whether they nurture a strong relationship between their own children and the natural world. 

This photograph is the property of Ariana Salvo. May not be reprinted without consent.
At the end of the day we discussed what everyone had enjoyed most about being on the farm. Even after only a little over three hours, the kids were making connections--between the farm animals and the fertile soil; between healthy soil and healthy crops; and between clean water and successful agriculture. I'd say it was a successful day, and though I felt exhausted from being out in the heat under the sun for three hours straight and keeping up with that many kids, I felt really excited to have been a part of their learning experience. And to have learned from them. I am looking forward to being back out on the farm with another great group of second graders next Thursday!

This week has gone by incredibly fast. I am amazed that it is already Friday afternoon. I am really looking forward to the weekend ahead--to yoga in the park tomorrow morning with a mystery guest teacher, to devotions with friends this evening, to catching up with two close friends who just got back from a trip to Italy and Paris, and to plenty of quality time with the pile of books that keeps getting taller next to my bed.

I hope you have a truly wonderful weekend, friends! See you on Monday!

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