Progress report for YENC22-183
EarthDance Organic Farm School, in partnership with the local Ferguson-Florissant School District, has developed a plan to support farm to school curriculum in all district schools. This proposed SARE-YE project represents the launch of the implementation of the Farm to School Action Plan, and will focus on implementing an Agri-culinary Education program for the District’s Innovation High School. Students participating in the agri-culinary internship will learn about career opportunities in agriculture and the culinary arts, as well as sustainable agricultural practices through hands-on activities. EarthDance will also provide workshops for teachers’ professional development to support school garden education.
- Increase students’ understanding of organic farming concepts and practices, and train them in farming skills. Introduce youth to sustainable agriculture career opportunities
- Provide teachers with professional development classes and workshops to administer cross-curriculum agricultural education.
- Support students to pursue a self-selected course of study related to sustainable agriculture.
- Empower students to share their sustainable agriculture projects with peers, district staff and leaders, and EarthDance’s network of good food movement advocates.
Educational & Outreach Activities
Educators who participated in Spring Training aslo attended the following workshops hosted by EarthDance: Starting from Seed, From Grass to Garden: Bed Building Basics, and Plant It Forward – Community Work Day & Celebratory Potluck*
EarthDance's Farm to School Educator has provided consultation to two school gardens. She has visited the sites to answer the staff's questions on what to plant, garden location, bed spacing, and ways to utilize the produce they grow.
Lesson plans were developed for eight sessions of both the Spring and Fall cohorts of the Agri-culinary internship. Lessons included:
Florida Basket weaving for tomatoes
Building a low tunnel and prepping beds for winter.
Harvesting various crops
Basics of chicken care, egg collecting and candling
The Farm to School program has thus far included eight on-farm cooking demos, four led by agriculinary internship students.
EarthDance's Spring Training for Gardeners program is a hybrid of online and in-person hands-on sessions. The course includes five 90-minute live online classes, taught by EarthDance staff and guest farmers (“I Want to Grow Food. Where do I Start?", Top 10 Veggies for Home Gardening Success, The Down and Dirty: Secrets to Great Soil, Pests, Weeds, and Plant Disease – Oh My!, and Maximizing Your Yield for Year-Round Deliciousness). Six educators from the Ferguson-Florissant School District participated in the program in order to prepare for success in their school gardens. FFSD paid the teachers' tuition and offered the educators an additional stipend for participation, to advance the Farm to School culture within the district.
As part of our partnership with Ferguson Florissant School District, six field trips were conducted in 2022. Field trips include age-appropriate information about the value of organic farming, some of the core practices of organic farming, the history of EarthDance farm (and land acknowledgment of indigenous land stewards), opportunities to taste test some crops in the field, learning about high-tunnels and season extension, meeting EarthDance's chickens, and Q&A and/or games to extend the learning.
Field Days (Field trips):
In Spring 2022, Agriculinary Interns took field trips to two neighboring urban farms. Rustic Roots is a BIPOC-lead farm and community garden The farm grows organic food for 30 + community members. Rabbits, Goats, Chickens and a bees live on the farm. The garden has 24 garden beds in addition to several places where food is grown directly in the ground. There is a small pond, a fire ring, 3 picnic tables, and a sustainable farm stand. There are 2 huge hugelkultur mounds about 80 feet long that grow native plants, wildflowers and sunflowers. The Interns toured the site and helped clip chickens' wing feathers and move goat fencing.
The Fall 2022 Interns visited Rung for Women's Urban Farm. Rung For Women is a St. Louis nonprofit that empowers women to grow and achieve sustained independence through co-located and coordinated educational, professional, and economic resources. Rung members can participate in a Community internship program operated by the nonprofit Urban Harvest STL and be involved in nurturing plants from farm to table – planting, harvesting, and then cooking the produce in the garden. Growing methods include: raised garden beds, in-ground farm rows, caterpillar high tunnel, food forest, and keyhole beds. Ro Kicker, the Farmer at Rung led the interns in demonstrations of composting, seed collecting, and transplanting.
Other Educational Activities:
Students in the agriculinary internship choose a focus project as part of their 10-week program. Thus farm projects have included: learning about herbs and making teas with herbs, creating natural hair products using herbs, creating a compost bio-reactor, and documenting the agriculinary internship via
Educators who participated in Spring Training also attended the following workshops hosted by EarthDance: Starting from Seed, From Grass to Garden: Bed Building Basics, and Plant It Forward – Community Work Day & Celebratory Potluck*
EarthDance has featured Farm to School activities in its online newsletter (9163 subscribers) and added numerous posts to our social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram) sharing information about the Agriculinary Internship and other aspects of our partnership with Ferguson-Florissant School District. Information about the Internship has also in been shared in the Ferguson Neighborhood News, a print publication that is delivered to all households in Ferguson.
Interest in, and confidence with cooking fresh produce
Interest in Sustainable agriculture
Awareness of agriculture's role in environmental stewardship
In 2022, we successfully (and joyfully!) piloted an experiential farm-to-school program in partnership with the Ferguson-Florissant School District (FFSD). EarthDance and FFSD team members have developed a comprehensive farm-to-school program over the course of the past two years – a key piece being the Agri-Culinary Internship Program. The purpose of this hands-on-earth program is to help connect students with the land, with each other, and with the farming community, improving access to fresh, organic produce through food growing and sharing experiences in farm and restaurant settings. The five students in the first cohort were able to choose the Agri-Culinary internship based on their desired career paths or interests, from a variety of options offered through Innovation School at Cool Valley. Together, they spent two mornings per week for eight weeks working on the farm, growing vegetables from seed, helping to build a vegetable garden at their school, each taking on their own special project - ranging from building a quick composting bio-reactor, to making herbal tea and soaps, to documenting moments and activities to share on social media. In addition to the curricular aspects of their learning, the students said they solidified friendships with each other, practiced coping skills at the farm, honed future goals and learned valuable life lessons. One participant said he enjoyed making herbal tea from plants on the farm – stinging nettle mixed with mint was his favorite, working with the chickens on a field trip visit to another North St. Louis County farm, Rustic Roots Sanctuary – even participating in clipping the chickens’ wings that day, and he may use some of his garden-grown jalapenos to cook a meal for his family. He also found a new life goal: the highschool sophomore, who wants to become an aerospace engineer, now wants to take plants to space. And, now he knows how to compost them to continue to generate nutritious food-growing fodder where soil might be in short supply! He is thankful for this experience at the farm. He said that, for him, there were many lessons learned: “The main one was patience. Working at the farm and growing things teaches you that not everything will come to you just like that,” he said, snapping his fingers. “It takes time to grow food and for it to return to the earth.”