Students at a local school learn the ins and outs of the real-world farming industry on their campus farm.
All Saints Episcopal School students in kindergarten through fourth grade have begun spring planting for their campus student-run farm, which consists of 20 plots with a variety of vegetables and herbs as well as a chicken coop.
The farm, which will grow tomatoes, zucchini, squash, peppers and more, was launched in 2017 and has become the sole responsibility of the students. The initiative not only teaches students agricultural courses, but also teaches them entrepreneurial skills.
Besides harvesting, planting and tending the crops throughout the year, the students also take care of 16 chickens by feeding and watering them, collecting their eggs, putting hay in their cages and keeping them happy so they lay eggs. The students then sell the eggs as part of an annual fundraiser.
Anna Dickey, science specialist for early learning and primary school, said pupils are eager to grow the crops and be involved in the process, especially because the foods grown are used for their meals served. at the cafeteria.
“They love it. They’re excited to see what plants we’re going to put there. It’s exciting for them to be a part of it so they can see that the food the chef makes in the cafeteria comes from the farm and how it starts from planting the sprout all the way to the end of your tray in the cafeteria,” she said.
Michael Brady, Director of Food Service, is responsible for all food prepared on campus and views the farm as a lesson in entrepreneurship for students.
Brady said the students also learn marketing skills, as they have to sell the produce they’ve grown to him. They research and learn how to properly evaluate products and then how to market them to customers. Brady said it allows students to get a real-world insight into the produce industry and agriculture.
It’s not always easy for students to sell, because Brady only “buys” products if they are acceptable for purchase and consumption. Realistic expectation prepares students for the real world, he said.
Although all ranks are involved in the farm, different ranks have certain duties.
The first graders incubate the chicks while the second graders are the chicken farmers who take care of the animals and organize the sale of the eggs. The fourth year students are responsible for taking full care of the farm.
“We’re simulating running a business and trying to hit all the education grades along the way, so it’s super cool and very neat,” Brady said. “The structure of the farm is very important, the way we assign each plot to the class is a very important lesson but also a necessity for the maintenance of the farm.”
Brady said sophomores will lead the annual egg sale, which will allow parents or other supporters to purchase eggs for $6. This is a business plan put together by the students, who also have to create a company logo, name and invoice. Funds raised from the sale allow students to give back to the farm by helping pay for fees and materials.
Brady said the farm is a constant learning lesson for children and said it has become an important asset to the campus.
“We are always learning. I’m still learning to put together the organization of that because we want it to be the gift that keeps on giving and we want it to be that environment that can keep teaching lessons that are endless but also have this structure,” he said. .
Other items grown in the farm garden include broccoli, cauliflower, kale and collard greens which should be planted within the year.