Why the Farm | Middle School

farm day

Posted by on March 31, 2017

Maybe you are wondering why we have chosen the Farm Experience for the middle school ages 12 – 14. The Farm is their time and space to take on their own interests. It is the time to ask, “What do I want to learn?” It is the space to pursue independence, passion, and work. The best summation of the Farm Experience is Play – Peers – Purpose – Projects.

We hosted our first Middle School Farm Day for our inaugural class. We played in the rain and created a thorough list of project ideas according to the students’ interests:

  • Theater – there are several stages around the farm, which led to many/mini production ideas including the name “Silo Productions”
  • Cooking & canning, which quickly evolved into “Farm Chopped”
  • Pioneer Day
  • Survivor Farm
  • Guest flyer with farm map
  • 100 year farm house celebration
  • Website design
  • Public Classroom in the Silo, possibly a life cycle exhibit
  • Tiny House Renovation, possibly a community learning resource or personal camping
  • Gardening
  • Flower planting & mulching
  • Corn Maze  
  • Animal Care
  • Sponsor an Animal – there are empty spaces that Farmer Rita offered
  • Hatch chicken & ducks
  • Socialize kittens
  • Obstacle Course (big kid playground)
  • Build birdhouses & bat houses
  • Pruning of fruit trees
  • Composting
  • Changing oil
  • Cleaning tools
  • Budgeting
  • Holiday gifts from the farm (jam, honey, wreaths, cedar blocks)
  • Holiday Party

Daily Farm Duties

  • feed animals
  • collect eggs
  • carry wood
  • fencing
  • mucking

Farm Gear (our first take at what we need to bring for our personal comfort)

  • muck boots
  • rain coat
  • change of clothes
  • sunscreen
  • bug spray
  • towel or mat

What about inclement weather? We got it covered! There are a number of areas to take shelter. We can head to one of the barns, like the other animals. Unlike the rest, we have the option to go up into the lofts, one of which has a stage. The tiny house in the woods. The silo classroom. In cases of extreme weather, we can go the farmhouse basement. Because it was damp and cool on our visit, Farmer Rita graciously extended her kitchen table to us, and made hot chocolate to boot.

As guides, our role is to help structure the day and the 34 weeks into a meaningful experience. The goal of farm activities will fall within one of these three domains:

Cognitive: problem-solving

Intrapersonal: self-management

Interpersonal: expressing ideas and working with others

This will look differently for every student. Our responsibility is to create a culture of exploration and acceptance to let this happen within their interests and strengths. One of our encouragements to the students is to choose one project to make their own, an independent project or emphasis, if you will. For example, could the “Farm Chopped” become a cookbook or video series. Could Silo Productions write, direct, promote and perform a theater production? Could daily journal entries become a children’s book? Could the farm map and photography lead to web design?

One student said, “September seems too far away to do this again.”   

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