On one of their farm visits,
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Education: In the Classroom and Down on the Farm!
A number of families in
, especially in the
Aston/Media area, are familiar with Red Hill Farm and many have shares in our
community supported agricultural farm. This past year, however, Joanne
Rosenbaum, our farm education coordinator, decided to broaden community
awareness of the farm—particularly with children. In her initial endeavor,
Joanne focused on Delaware
County ’s third grade class. From
April through July, she held sessions at the school. Other times the 23
students and their teacher, Cindi O’Hanlin, traveled from Drexel Neumann
to the farm in Aston.
Joanne developed a detailed plan outlining the topics and activities for each of the sessions. The lessons varied depending on the site but often provided the basis for the succeeding class. For example, in one classroom session the children used a process of scientific inquiry to answer the question “How do plants get water into their stems and leaves? Joanne dressed up as a scientist and invited one of the students to don a lab coat as well. To answer the question, each student performed his or her own experiment using celery, cups, and food dye. And as in any scientific experiment, the students recorded their information and findings in their farm books. During that same class, the students planted vegetable and herb seeds. They received instruction in caring for their plants and in documenting growth in their farm books both with pictures and measurements. Joanne instructed the students to bring their plants to the next class at the farm. Other classroom topics included topics such as making hummus and learning nutritional information about food groups and the sugar content of drinks.
At the farm, students planted the seedlings they had grown. In one memorable session, they learned about chickens and bees—and participated in a bee dance! They toured parts of the farm to learn how organic food is grown and—perhaps the ultimate treat— studied both soil and bugs under the stereoscope and hand-held magnifying glasses!
On one of their farm visits,
Farm manager Angela Kidder answers questions about the many types of plants on Red Hill Farm.
In their June visit to the farm, the students checked to see how their plants had grown and discussed the overall changes they found on the farm. Even their preparation of a snack was a learning experience. In their construction of “ants on a log,” they used both natural and regular peanut butter. Using the content information on the labels, they discussed the similarities and differences in the two types of peanut butter. After lunch and a tour of the motherhouse, the children visited the convent gardens. Each child chose a tree and agreed to research the type or species. They shared their reports at the next class.
Drexel Neumann students head off to check the progress of the vegetable and herb seedlings they planted in class, nurtured at home, and replanted at the farm.
Drexel Neumann third graders successfully completed the first Red Hill Farm education program.
After each class Joanne noted what was particularly successful and what she felt might need adjustment. Next year she hopes to be able to share the program with several other Catholic schools in the area as well as with some of the local public schools.