Kids at the Farm

Terri Buchanan acg at
Fri Sep 7 08:12:55 EDT 2001

After working with MANY volunteer groups of children at our community and
school gardens, I have these suggestions:

1.  Make an agreement with them about why they are there.  Are they
volunteering to help you at the farm?  Are they there for exercise and just
to be outside?  Clarify the purpose of the visits with the kids - not the

2.  Rules of behavior must be explained first thing.  Don't chase the sheep,
don't explore the barn without permission, here's how you take care of
tools, don't kill bugs unless instructed to, here's what poison ivy looks
like.  There are so many things that urban kids just don't know.  Give the
kids the hard and fast do's and don'ts, but let the kids come up with the
groundrules for behavior violations.  They are usually harder on themselves
than you would be.

3.  If the kids are going to be there during an entire season, make sure
they get to plant, tend and harvest something of their own.  They need to
see the entire cycle - and be responsible for it.

4.  Make sure the parents know you are not just a babysitter.  The visits
shouldn't be a time the adults can drop off the kids and just disappear.

5.  If you want them to learn to eat vegetables, you may want to consider
preparing a "kid-friendly" veggie dish each time for them to sample.  Let
them take home some produce and include a recipe they can prepare with mom
and dad.

6.  Have plenty of extra hats, gloves, sun screen and bug spray. They will
forget theirs.

7.  Call your local Ag Extension Office - excuse me - Cooperative Extension
Office - and ask if they will donate a copy of the Junior Master Gardener
book.  It has some good ideas.

8.  Talk to them about food security and how to advocate for it.

I could go on and on, but this will get you started.  Good luck with your

Terri Buchanan
Executive Director
Sustainable Food Center
(Recently merged with Austin Community Gardens)
P.O. Box 13323
Austin, Texas 78711

Main office:  512/236-0074
Fax: 512/236-0098
Sunshine Gardens site: 512/458-2009

It takes more than food to fight hunger!

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