By Francie Lin, GFN Writer-in-Residence I think everyone would rather forget the early pandemic days…
Grow Food Northampton provides educational field trips to public elementary school classes. The field trips are free of charge and include bus transportation and at least one hour of hands on activities. Heather, our Youth Engagement Coordinator, has been busy running the farm-based field trips at Crimson & Clover Farm. Crimson & Clover is a small family run vegetable farm that leases our land at Northampton Community Farm. This fall, we will have 17 field trips and a total of 656 students participate in the program.
Heather and Ellena, our Land Stewardship Coordinator, have been facilitating the hour-long trips. The students are exposed to the small family farm environment and dive into what a farm is and the plants, animals, and landscapes that are apart of it. The kindergarten and first graders have been focusing on learning about the farm through observation and the 2nd and 3rd graders have been learning about the farm ecosystem.
Students visit the hoop house where they learn about creating a warm environment to extend the growing season in the northeast and the roll of curing squash to extend shelf life. In the hoop house, students explore the piles of squash and count the 9 different varieties curing.
Students are then able to get their hands dirty and harvest carrots or kale from the farm fields. The vegetables are brought back to the classroom and later turned into a snack. The carrot tops and the kale stems are then fed to the pigs. The kids talk about waste and nutrient cycling while they feed the pigs and see the manure that is used as compost on the farm.
Lastly, students get to visit the Farm Store and discuss what local food is and how the farm store looks and feels different then a regular grocery store.
Heather has loved running the field trips and seeing the enthusiasm from both the teachers and students about the program. She has had a lot of fun with the questions that kids bring up while at the farm and hearing the knowledge they have to share. She is currently developing the classroom workshops that will happen this winter. These workshops will be hands on activities focusing on cooking, nutrition, and food justice.