Home schoolers and the farm

Miranda Smith miranda3 at optonline.net
Thu Sep 6 13:41:03 EDT 2001

Subject: [market-farming] Home schoolers and the farm

I agree with Alex about attention spans and knowledge levels. But I wanted
to add some thoughts about projects that work--with both age groups.

I usually start kids out--no matter what age they are--with composting. They
can make a compost pile from scratch and turn it every time they come.

This gives you a chance to teach so many different things--from soil animals
to microorganisms, needs of aerobic organisms, aerobic vs. anaerobic
organisms, recycling, and management of soil fertility.

Everyone loves worm boxes, too. They can set up a couple and feed them when
they come. (You can look after them a bit in the kids' absence.) They can
also harvest worms to expand the soon-to-be worm farm. If any of them fish,
you can donate to the cause.

Digging potatoes is usually good fun, especially if you plan a treat for
them after the work is done. They will love it if you dig a firepit, line it
with rocks, build a big fire in it to get it hot, let the fire die down and
place some potatoes wrapped in foil on the hot rocks, and set a big rock
over the opening. Let the potatoes roast like that for about 1 1/2 hrs,
depending on the temperature. Potaotes never tasted so good! Incidently,
this is a great class for teaching basic plant anatomy--a potato is a
STEM???? You might have some spring "bulbs" around to teach the difference
between rhizomes, tubers, true bulbs, and corms, too. For the math part of
the lesson, do some calculations on potato yields. You can also teach
something about observation trials if you have a couple of different
varieties--they can count yields from a
certain sample of each group.

Cleaning up crop debris and mulching for winter are good fall activities and
give you a chance to teach some basic biology--what happens to disease
organisms and insects in the winter? Why do some plants freeze? What happens
to the ones that don't? Why do some plants tolerate cold weather while
others don't?

Worms are a good rainy day activity. Other rainy day stuff can be prepping
veggies for sale, sorting stuff, making soil mix, seeding flats, cleaning
out work areas, washing pots, checking stored veggies for rot. --All the
sorts of things you do on rainy days.

I could go on and on, but I'm sure those ideas will get you thinking of ways
that you can use other activities. Garlic planting is good, for example,
because you can do math with it too. You're sure to have lots of fun doing
this--it really is fun.


 Miranda Smith

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