Local, organic agriculture. Environmental education.

The Four Year Old Farmer

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Baby Spinach program at Holly Hill is designed for three and four year-olds to explore the Farm, find out who lives and what is growing at the Farm.  One day has them gathering ingredients to make compost. They start by meeting Walter the Worm who is a rejuvenated, bi-focaled old sock who seeks to wiggle and find yummy things to eat. There are weeds to pull and collect, banana peels to add, apple cores to devour and of course hay-filled manure from the resident horses to muck from the stalls and paddocks at the Farm.  There is lots to think of as yucky about making compost, but the children seem to be excited about joining in a poop parade and singing verses of Dirt Made My Lunch, which is an essential piece of considering the value of compost that is so helpful in the growing of new vegetables and produce. At the end of the day devoted to compost, the kids and engaged counselors march to the education garden with buckets of finished compost which they then spread amongst the plants to help feed the plants and help the worms.  The campers have taken a page from the organic farmer’s daily plan book as they seek to make and spread compost everyday.

Another day has the 3 & 4 year-olds sowing seeds to take home. Earlier they learned what plants, and all living things for that matter, need to grow. The plants need water, sun, soil (read compost), space and air. A colored bead represents each element and they hang on the pipe cleaner which is twisted through a red cedar chip that is fashioned into a necklace with each camper’s name on it. It is a farmy name tag which could become a nice keepsake of their days on the Farm. The five essential items for plants are revisited when they kids get ready to sow seeds. Recently, in order to find those seeds, the kids and I went to the Saw Mill field to clear a bed of spent crops, rocks and weeds. In the next bed, there was a row of lemon queen sunflowers with a sweet scent and equally delightful bright color. The sunflowers grow at different rates and some sunflower heads have gone by and in fact been pollinated by the hard working busy honey bees. (Another day of the week features a visit to the bee hives and a chance to play the roles of busy bees, drones and queen bee). We cut off the sunflower head which held a great many seeds. Each seed was given to the kids so they could have a new plant to take home, cultivate and celebrate. We made sure to gather water from the rain barrel and in fact gave two seeds to each camper, in case one did not grow.

There are other themes and activities for the other days of the week. And many kids even return for additional weeks. Summer Camp at the Farm makes for young, excited farmers and productive growers involved in the hard, fun work of organic farming.  With a couple works left of Summer Camp at the Farm, there is much compost to make, seeds to sow and songs to sing for folks of all ages.

© 2015, Jon Belber. All rights reserved. Friends of Holly Hill Farm

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