Final report for YENC22-185
The Elder Tree Forest School is an experiential education program that will inspire children and youth to explore the agricultural possibilities within the understory of our forest ecosystem. We will be collaborating with the American Chestnut Foundation, Rural Action, United Plant Savers, Agraria Center for Regenerative Practice, The Narrow Way Farm and The Farm on Central to enable our students to experiment with new methods for cultivating edible and medicinal forest crops such as chestnut, elderberry, mushrooms and ginseng. We are committed to offering forest farm programs that intentionally include and engage neurologically diverse children, youth and adults.
- Introduce youth to the concept of forest farming by delivering programs based on the National Agroforestry Center’s “Inside Agroforestry” publications and the Agroforestry Curriculum from the University of Missouri.
- Create an agroforestry demonstration site where youth will build practical skills that enable them to cultivate edible and medicinal forest crops in the understory of the nine acre woodlot owned by St. Paul the Apostle Orthodox Church.
- Create mentorship opportunities for youth and young adults by connecting them with local farmers, permaculturists and agroforestry experts.
- Share project results through field-trips and presentations at local schools, churches, conferences and through social media.
Educational & Outreach Activities
PROGRAMS and WORKSHOPS - 2022
February 26, 2022- Chestnut workshop and planting day with Dr. Carolyn Kieffer, American Chestnut Foundation, Miami University Department of Dendroloty, Professor Emeritus. 12 Participants (Ages 5 years through college)
March 26, 2022- Field Trip to Boulder Berry Farm - Farmer Owner Taylor Clark taught us about his methods for cultivating Elderberry, Aronia Berry and Haskap Berries and toured his farm and gave us an elderberry processing demonstration. 7 Participants (College and young adult)
Saturday, April 2, 2022 Elderberry Planting Day, cuttings from the Farm on Central were planted by youth and adult volunteers through out St. Paul's Forest. 15 participants (Youth and families)
Saturday, May 7, 2022 Persimmon & Pawpaw Planting and Oak woodland Restoration. 20 participants (Youth and families) Arborist and Urban Forestry Mentor, Mark Caldwell organized tree planting day for the community with help from Suzanne Slavens. Mark taught community members about proper tree planting techniques and the importance of native woodland species.
Saturday, May 14, 2022 Mushroom Spawning: Community Workshop with agriculture extension educator, Mark Amante, Central State Extension. 10 participants
Saturdays May 21- June 18 from 9am-12noon volunteers continued to work to open the understory of the forest by removing invasive species in order to prepare the land for fall plantings. Each event was attended by 5-12 volunteers.
June 24-26 Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmers Conference - Suzanne Slavens and Maya Chen attended and networked with other agroforestry professionals and shared information about the Elder Tree Youth Agroforestry Program. At this event we met with Andrea Miller and Karam Sheban with Rural Action and both gained incredibly valuable skills that were then used to strengthen the agroforestry program.
Exploring the Forest of Food Summer Program at St. Paul's Forest
Saturday, July 2 10am -12noon - Welcome to the Forest - Introduction to forest farming for children ages 3-9 and their families
Saturday, July 9 10am -12noon - Berry Bonanza
Saturday, July 16 10am -12noon - Black Cherry Bliss
Saturday, July 23 10am -12noon - Fun with Fungi
Saturday, July 30 10am -12noon - Forest Feast
Summer Agroforestry Program Participant Overview
Number Youth Participants: 29
College and Young Adult Volunteers: 8
Senior Citizen Volunteers: 2
Continued Young Adult Volunteer Engagement
Saturdays in August through September (9 am - 12 noon) - a core team of 3-5 volunteers continue to steward the land in the forest by caring for the newly planted trees and managing invasive species.
Youth Agriculture Volunteer Program at the Farm on Central
In an effort to build partnerships with local farmer mentors who are doing perennial crop production, Suzanne developed a partnership with Michael Kilpatrick at the Farm on Central. Suzanne coordinated a 6 week youth volunteer program at the Farm on Central. Three high school students met with Suzanne at the farm every Wednesday from 9am-12 noon. Students assisted with farm tasks such as weeding and harvesting. Educational topics covered included discussions on soil health, invasive species management and sustainable pest management.
Families who participated in the Elder Tree Forest school attended u-pick strawberry days at the Farm on Central.
Exploring the Forest of Food at Agraria Center for Regenerative Practice
At the Sustainable Agriculture Education Association Conference Suzanne Perry Slavens shared information about the Elder Tree Agroforestry Program with the education team at the Agraria Center for Regenerative Practice. She was hired on at Agraria to help lead youth education programs and integrate agroforestry education into existing programs.
Exploring the Forest of Food Curriculum was implemented at the Agraria center for Regenerative Practice in their Forest Families Program on Wednesdays 9-11am from August 31-November 9.
12 Children enrolled in this 10 week program that was facilitated by Suzanne Perry Slavens using the curriculum developed through the SARE grant for Elder Tree.
|09/21||Paw Paw Party|
|10/12||Nuts for Walnut|
Agroforestry Experiment at Agraria
Suzanne Slavens has initiated a field trip program at Agraria to introduce middle school students to the concept of forest farming. This program was piloted with students from Enon Montesorri School.
October 14, 2022 - Intro to Forest Farming and Site Assessment. Students will be introduced to crops that are grown in a forested environment and investigate the site requirements for cultivating two forest crops in Ohio - ginseng and goldenseal.
October 28, 2022 - Students return to Agraria to prepare the land and plant ginseng and goldenseal in the understory of Agraria's woodland.
Exploring the Forest of Food - Fall Forest School at St. Paul's Forest
Saturday, September 17 - 9am - 12 noon - Persimmon Power
Saturday, September 24 - 9am - 12 noon - Paw Paw Party
Saturday, October 8 - 9am - 12 noon - Planting Party
Saturday, October 15 - 9am - 12 noon - Forest Feast
Fall Participant Overview
High School Volunteers: 7
College and Young Adult Volunteers: 6
Senior Volunteer: 1
Children learn about agroforestry at Elder Tree Forest School - Farm and Dairy
Volunteer Tree Planting Flyer (10822)
Forest School Kid Council - Agenda: a small group of student participants would meet weekly to help us plan the songs, activities, and crafts for that weeks lessons. Their input helped shape the lessons taught and gave them an opportunity to practice leadership, teamwork, communication, and responsibility.
Lesson Sequences - Summer 2022
Song Lyrics: Forest School programs started and ended with original music written by the Elder Tree students with help from Suzanne Slavens about ecology and agroforestry. Lyrics for the songs are available here.
SAEA - Round Table: a conversation on Elderhood and traditional ways of farming in conjunction with the forest. This round table discussion was introduced by this slide deck before asking attendees what elderhood meant to them.
Copy of SAEA 22 Conference Program - Final draft Online
Participants developed an interest in ecology and forest farming through interactive experiences with hands-on agroforestry programs.
Participants developed practical skills and knowledge that enable them to identify edible and medicinal forest crops in the understory of temperate forests.
Participants developed a deep connection to place and a strong bond with the natural world through participant-led exploration, play, and investigation.
Qualitative Feedback from Parents:
- Agroforestry Field Trip: Site Assessment (Course or Curriculum)
- Agroforestry Lesson Sequences (Course or Curriculum)
- Songs from the Forest Farm (Multimedia)
- Farming the Forest: nourshing community through agroforestry (Conference/Presentation Material)
- Agroforestry Field Journal (Manual/Guide)