The St. Johnsbury School Pre-K classes visited Joe's Brook Farm in Barnet on June 1 as part of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) Farm to Classroom Correspondence Program. The purpose of the program is to expand agricultural awareness by developing a community understanding of agriculture and to develop on-going relationships between communities, schools and their local farms.
The St. Johnsbury Pre-K teachers, Laura Smith and Julie Sturm, are excited to introduce their students to local agriculture. The students spent the last half of the school year corresponding with farmers Mary and Eric Skovsted who own and manage the organic produce and berry farm. Earlier the same week, the classes cooked baked stuffed Kinder-apples as part of another agriculture education program: Farm to School. The recipe included maple syrup from Joe's Brook Farm along with local apples and butter.
When the children arrived at the farm, they had a picnic in front of the tomato greenhouse and learned about why farmers use greenhouses. The class was treated to a tour of the farm, led by Mary and Eric. They were shown rows of garlic, onions, broccoli, kale, carrots and lettuce, and were asked to guess what each plant was. The children received hands-on learning by planting sunflower seeds in the garden.
The students were given a demonstration of common hand tools that farmers use including a wheel hoe and a hand seeder. Next, the students went inside the farm's 200-year-old barn and learned about how it was recently moved back from the road and completely renovated. The barn is going to be the site of a new farm stand. Inside the barn the Pre-K class sang a song, "Oats, Peas, Beans, and Barley Grow," as a tribute to the farmers. The tour finished with a walk through the farm's rows of strawberries.
Visiting the Joe's Brook Farm was a great way for the students to learn about where Vermont's fresh local food comes from. Mary and Eric have had a great experience with the Farm to School program. Mary said, "This year we are proud to have a working relationship with the St. Johnsbury School. We will unite with the kids through the classroom and taste tests to help them develop an authentic appreciation for local healthy food, which is important for both students and our community."
Joe's Brook Farm offers a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share and operates a farm stand. Their fresh vegetables can be found at the following farmers markets: St. Johnsbury, Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Lyndonville, Fridays from 3-7 p.m.; Danville, Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Littleton, Sundays, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
NOFA's Farm to Classroom Correspondence project is facilitated by the Farm to Community mentor in Caledonia and N. Orleans County. The Farm to School grant program is made possible by collaboration between the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Vermont Department of Health, The Fairbanks Museum, The St. J. Food Co-op and St. J. ALFA (Area Local Food Alliance), VT FEED (Food Education Every Day) and many community volunteers. If you are interested in helping or finding out more about these agricultural community projects, contact Melissa Bridges at Melissa@stjfoodcoop.com or at 802-748-9498. More information is available at www.vtfeed.org or www.farmtoschool.org or http://www.vermontagriculture.com/education/farmtoschool/index.html.
Submitted by Jamiee Murray, local Foods intern.