How Does a 10-acre Farm Improve the Health of Local Youth?

Learning about plants, nature, and vegetables in the classroom cannot compare with the experience that occurs on a Project GROWS field trip. From my perspective as the new Education Assistant, students visiting the farm are eager and excited to spot plants and tools that they have learned about in school or back home. I’ve also noticed that students who have seen the farm in the past are no less excited to visit again than a student visiting for the first time, and in fact show a willingness to be more involved and learn.

Asking students to try a vegetable on the farm can be challenging. I’ve noticed that students who have visited before, and are more familiar with the farm, are more comfortable around the veggies than those on their first visit. The multiple exposures that students get on each field trip seem to create a familiarity with vegetables. It has been wonderful to see the same students, who visited on field trips, back in their schools for tasting; asking about the vegetables they tried and what new vegetables they will get to try.

A barn would help provide the infrastructure that would enhance our on-farm field trips. I sometimes feel spread out between schools, the office, and the farm chasing down tools and resources needed for multiple activities; but with the barn, our team would have the space to organize and prepare our tools and resources, leading to higher quality experiences for the youth in our education programs. For field trips, we have multiple lesson plans that all require different materials. The space needed to keep track of and maintain these materials increases as we develop more in-depth and unique on-farm lessons. One of our biggest challenges on field trips is having contingency plans for rain. A barn on the farm would give a meeting space for trips that have a high chance of rain and we would not have to cancel a schools only opportunity to experience the farm.

We’ve seen the ways that our work directly impacts youth, and we invite you to join with us! If you would like to support us consider pledging to our Barn-Raising Campaign today!

Freddy Carruth, Education Assistant, AMI Phase II Fellow