What do you picture when you think of a classroom? Maybe you see books neatly on shelves, art supplies in bright drawers and desks in tidy rows. Then add buckets of food scraps, plants in every color and the buzzing of honeybees. Now, you’re picturing KFB’s learning space, equipped with hands-on experiences to connect kids to lifelong healthy habits.
As contributors to the local food system, it is our responsibility to use our farms to engage community in a way that serves everyone. We transform our farmland into a unique classroom and are honored to learn alongside students in October for National Farm to School Month!
“At the core, farm to school is built for and by communities, with all of us working together to cultivate a better future for us all. Farm to school brings together a community of individuals across sectors, generations and interests—farmers, parents, students, advocates, teachers, food service workers, and lawmakers—who all share a common vision of an abundant, nourishing and equitable food system.” -National Farm to School Network
This fall, third and fourth grade students at Pine Creek Elementary in Saugatuck visited our Kent County farm. There, they started the day with a healthy snack, because we all learn best when our minds and bodies are nourished. The KFB Learn team laid out ground rules on the farm, which were a bit different than what the kids were used to in a traditional classroom. On the KFB farm, students were encouraged to touch, smell and even taste what interested them while asking questions and, at times, “digging” into the lesson.
The students traveled across the acres, exploring with their five senses. They carried buckets with them and were given two choices: either collect compostable materials around the farm or gather fresh produce for a healthy snack. A rainbow of vegetables and fruits were delightfully consumed, barely making it to their intended buckets.
Some kids found what they called the most perfect raspberries they had ever seen, making sure our KFB Learn team admired their deep red color (#phytonutrients) before the young students enjoyed them. Kids sampled purple snap peas and yellow pole beans, with one student sharing, “these (pole beans) are ok, but those peas are where it’s at. Can we go back and eat more peas?”
Not all produce is a hit, and that’s okay! We encourage students to bravely “just try one bite” when trying new foods on our farms. Take a crispy bite out of a green pepper with your friend or snap a ripe orange carrot with your teacher. Many kids are surprised at how their senses evolve as they keep trying new foods. This is especially true when kids harvest fresh food right off the plant themselves!
On a farm, kids connect to the deep roots of their food. This experiential discovery facilitates an empowered relationship between kids and the nourishment their body was designed to eat. After the end of a sticky, dirt-covered lesson, we often hear a chorus of shocked kids exclaim, “I didn’t know I could even like vegetables!”
Celebrate #F2SMonth at home by exploring KFB’s free education resources.