Friday, June 14, 2013

GUO’s Farm Field Trip Series, Spring 2013

Heritage Academy at Juniper Farms
On Monday, May 13th, the grade 7 students and the gr 10 Green Industries students of Heritage Academy kicked off the farm field trips of 2013 at Juniper Farms. Although it was a cold morning in Wakefield, QC, students were greeted with warm welcomes by Alex, his lovely wife Juniper, and their friendly Australian Shepherd, Clover.

 The students were surprised to learn that Juniper Farms sells most of their produce to restaurants and something they had never heard of before; community supported agriculture (CSA) baskets. Alex explained that by signing up for a CSA basket at the beginning of the season, the members are delivered vegetables that came out of the ground that same day. Now that’s freshness at its best!

Students were excited to check out the machinery on the farm. One of Juniper Farms’ most prised possessions is a machine called a spader. This machine is used for tilling the land, but is much better for the soil than a conventional plough as it digs deeper and is friendlier to the earth worms!
Finally, we got our hands a little dirty and helped out on the farm by weeding buckwheat seedlings from the spinach field. All in all, it was a great time had by all! Thanks to Alex and Juniper for having us on your beautiful farm!

/The new mobile chicken coop!
Weeding with Clover the dog!
Farmer Alex talks about a spader.

Churchill Alternative School  at Rainbow Heritage Farms
On Thursday, May 16th, Farmer Zach welcomed the excited grade 6 students from Churchill Alternative to Rainbow Heritage Farms in Cobden, ON. One of the very first things that caught the students’ eyes was the yurt that Zach and his family live in!

Zach started off his tour by  relating the importance of a great diversity of plants and animals on his farm: Zach not only means having a great variety of vegetables, but also diversity throughout time: short term crops like annual vegetables, medium-term plants like perennial asparagus, raspberries, onions, and the long-term investments: the mighty trees. Rainbow Heritage is located on part of the Canadian Shield, large expanses of rock formed by the last glacier age; the tall and mighty oaks have been slowly grinding away at the soil throughout the ages and now Zach says, this is the best soil he has ever seen. Zach has learned from the trees and now continuously builds up the soil on his farm and plants new trees for generations to come.

After a “jogging tour” around the farm, Zach invited us to plant four oak trees in a field. This is just one of Zach’s long term projects on the farm. He hopes to recreate the type of forest that would have existed on his farm a long time ago. How nice would it be for the students to come back to Rainbow Heritage as adults and see how their trees have grown?

Last but not least, it was Churchill Alternative’s turn to help out on the farm! The students helped to lay down mulch around walnut and spruce saplings. It was another fantastic day for city kids to take a walk on the rural side!

Summit School visits Castor River and Roots & Shoots Farms
On Wednesday, May 22nd, the grade 8 students of Summit Alternative School split up into two groups for the day. One group got to visit an organic vegetable farm, while the other was off to see an organic grain farm. The idea was to give each group a different organic farm to visit so that they could compare the similarities and differences they observed on these farms at the end of the day.

Castor River
Farmer George welcomed the grade 8 students to his organic grain farm in Metcalfe, ON. The students quickly gravitated towards the charming farm animals at Castor River Farm, including two dairy cows, many chickens, even more pigs, a Clydesdale horse, and a grumpy old pony. After a quick introduction to the farm, George was ready to put us to work by helping him move the electric fence used to contain the horses and cows so that they could graze on new grass. Don’t worry, the power was turned off!
Castor River Farm, includes many fields used to grow wheat, rye and corn. George’s farm is roughly 40 acres whereas a typical grain farm could cover up to 4000 acres! But George explained that he was able to stay competitive by being one of the few organic grain farms in the region.

Afterwards, we helped to trim the apple and pear trees in the orchard, collect eggs in the chicken coop, and grind up some wheat on the bicycle-powered mill! The students were able to grind a whole bucket full of flour!

All of that hard work paid off as the students brought home buckwheat flour and maple syrup to make pancakes at school that week. Thanks Castor River Farm!

Roots and Shoots
The other half of the grade 8 students enjoyed their farm field trip at Roots and Shoots Farm, in Manotick Station, ON. Farmer Robin and long-time farm employee, Danny, greeted the students and gave them a tour of the farm. There were many broad topics discussed throughout the morning, including making good food choices, buying local and organic produce, and global food issues.

The grade 8 students also learned a lot about hard work as they helped mulch a field with straw. Although it was a hot, dirty, and itchy job, it was clear that the students were having a great time! Thank you to Roots and Shoots Farm for the insightful and adventurous day!

Elmdale Visits Rollway Hops
On Thursday, May 23rd, the grade 3 students of Elmdale Public School visited Rollway Hops Organic farm in Plantagenet, ON. One by one, the students came off of the bus in their rubber boots and rain coats, to be greeted by Jacques and his sister, Roxanne. Soon enough it was pouring rain but that didn’t stop us! The morning started off with a tour of the managed forest surrounding the farm where Jacques and Roxanne practice foraging. In the woods, the students got to see the sugar shack, pick wintergreens, learn how mushrooms are grown on logs, and find lots of moose droppings!

Back in the greenhouse, Jacques let each student pick their own radish and plant their very own bush bean or nasturtium seed. Roxanne was also kind enough to serve the students a lime and mint infused sweet drink and candied spruce shoots. Everything was delicious! The students couldn’t believe that you could eat something growing off of a spruce tree.

Rain or shine, Elmdale students are ready for the tour!

When it was time to get back on the bus, Jacques had one more sweet treat for the students to try before leaving….maple syrup from the farm. With a spoonful of syrup, the students went back to school with their potted beans and nasturtiums.

Thank you to Jacques and Roxanne for a wonderful day at Rollway Hops Farm!

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