We took 9 African-American children and 2 adults from St. Louis to Margot McMillan’s Terra Bella farm near Auxvasse, Missouri in June. The children fed goats and lambs, learned to fish, picked blackberries, caught and identified insects, spent the night camping out in a tent, learning to put it up and take it down. We used the Daily Bread exercise from Missouri Extension. We talked about sustainable farming practices and visited a neighbor’s more industrial model farm where we talked about the huge tractor they use. The children ground Ms. McMillan’s organic wheat berries, made flour and made pancakes using the flour. In August, six of the children returned with the two adults from St. Louis and met with Ms. McMillan as well as a woman who brought her farm petting zoo animals. The children learned about and played with biddies and puppies, and rode a pony. On Saturday we visited the Farmers’ Market in Fulton, leaned about the farmers there, learned about adding value through canning and preserving, bought vegetables and then leaned to prepare and cook the vegetables. The children learned about how bread and pancakes are made from wheat and how organic fresh whole wheat tastes better and is more nutritious than what is generally purchased in the store. The children learned a bit about sustainable vs. industrial practices, use of chemicals, preserving some land in a natural state, the effect of plowing. The adults reaffirmed our belief that children are natural learners and can thrive and be more independent in a farm setting.
Visual and word artists and our adult volunteer teachers worked with the youth to prepare presentations, at least some of which were presented back home in their communities. We participated with two children during presentations at their school to about 25-30 students and adults each. We also participated with youth presentations at our church that came from their experiences, with about 50 adults and 50 young people in attendance.
Still today, several of the young people who participated ask when we can do another Farm Camp, so we learned that our basic vision of taking urban children into sustainable agriculture rural settings is an exciting and positive vision.
WORK PLAN FOR 2015
We are looking for 10-20 acres of land to buy closer to St. Louis so we can set up the Farm Camp project on a more regular and sustainable basis.