The following is a Farm Education update from our Farm Educator, Anna Ellis.
Last week on the farm was filled with so much excitement for all of our classes as we continue getting ready for summer planting! Cucumbers, summer squash, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers are all on the summer menu.
In addition to all of the delicious fruiting plants we planted, our 1st grade student farmers have been exploring two important resources for all of our farm crops: nutrients and water.
Through a study of the water cycle, students are learning the importance of replenishing what nutrients our plants remove from the soil and how the water cycle is happening on the farm every day — which has been very apparent with all the rain we had last week! The rain has also pushed some of our classes indoors, which gave me a chance to bring the farm to a few classrooms.
Here are some of the lessons we learned on that rainy day:
On Thursday I brought some farm fresh snacks and the water cycle lesson to PS 276 Battery Park City School. Before eating Haikurei turnips that the students had planted on the first farm class of the spring, we made mini 3D water cycles for the students to take home. By the end of the class students were using words like condensation and precipitation like pros!
Later in the day, I brought the same water cycle lesson to PS 397 Spruce Street, whose class had been similarly rained out. There, one student thanked me for teaching them about the water cycle because it was “so much fun.” As an educator, it’s always exciting to hear students who enjoy learning new things and remember all that new information because they had fun doing it!
I brought chive blossoms for the class to taste and when I told them chives grow back every year, one student told me that means its a perennial. (Students had learned the difference between annuals and perennials in a lesson they did 3 weeks ago!)
Our teachers have also been hard at work to bring the farm back to school. One class is keeping a Battery Urban Farm journal, where they practice different writing styles by reflecting on what they’ve done at the farm. Students have written procedural pieces (how to plant a seed), drawn diagrams (the plant life cycle) and even recorded their wonderings (“does lettuce have seeds, and if it does where do they come from?”). This fabulous teacher told us that “we really appreciate all the work that you do on the farm and for allowing us to be a part of it.”
And the teachers aren’t the only ones: this week a student from her class told me “Tuesdays are my favorite day because I get to be an urban farmer.”
As an educator, it’s so rewarding to see both teachers and students recognize and articulate the importance and value in what we do here at Battery Urban Farm. It’s also incredibly rewarding to see students exploring, asking questions and feeling ownership of their work on the farm. These are the kinds of connections students are making that are difficult to capture in numbers, but so easy and exciting to see in the course of classes on the farm.
On a personal note, I appreciate all the work this teacher has done for her students, and I want to ensure we can continue working with the many teachers like her that see the value in integrating farm education into daily lessons within the classroom.
If you do too, help keep our programs running: shop at Whole Foods on Thursday June 27! Why? Because on June 27, 5% of net sales from all 7 Manhattan stores will be donated to The Battery Conservancy. You can support our work with students like these (and the 1,900 others we will work with this year) simply by shopping for your weekly groceries.