Summer on the Farm
In 2012 we:
a) Got our farm set up to hold children’s summer programming. This included:
-beautification: getting our farm prepped for the public’s eye
-safety: posting caution signs for culverts, electric fences, etc.
-liability: making sure our insurance properly covers the program
-planning: where and when the participants will plant, harvest, etc.
b) Worked with Lila Planavsky, M.Ed. to develop curriculum and daily scheduling. This included:
-planning the rhythm of the day that created the best balance of physical activity, rest, and learning.
-planning science lessons such as identifying native trees and flowers
-planning garden lessons such as identifying what part of the plant we eat (flower, leaf, root, etc.)
-planning art lessons that allow reflection on lessons learned above
c) Held a successful pilot of “Summer on the Farm.” The children spent a total of 25 hours on the farm over 5 days. Every day, they planted, weeded, and harvested in the vegetable gardens and perennial fruit plantings. We explained some of the differences between organic and conventional agriculture. We helped them identify pest and beneficial insects, native plants and flowers, and identified wildlife as we came across it. It was very much a hands-on discovery experience for the children and we let their interests guide somewhat the format of the day. Digging potatoes was a favorite as was planting seeds. We also had tastings of garden produce such as kale, ground cherries, chard, and herbs like basil and lemon balm. After resting, we would go on nature walks in our streams and woods, and engage in a science lesson such as the difference between caterpillars and worms. We would end the day with a journaling/art activity and finally have unstructured “free time” where they could simply relax and enjoy themselves in our beautiful rural setting. We surveyed parents and children about what parts of the program they liked best and will take these suggestions into account for Summer 2013. Finally, participants received pre and post surveys about their familiarity with different fruits and vegetables, basic agricultural practices, and their willingness to eat different types of produce.
d) Made our community aware of our programming through various networking described in detail below.
1. This is a truly unique and sought after experience in our area. When we announced our sessions in 2012 and 2013 (via fliers at the Farmer’s Market and on our Facebook page), there was enough interest to fill the sessions in a matter of days and there are long waiting lists. To see the Facebook Page: Search for “Deep Roots Community Farm.”
2.People love the experience. Children and parents were both appreciative. See some comments from participant’s parents, below, either posted on our facebook page or sent via letter:
a) Thank you Ana and Lila! What an amazing week!
b) It was a wonderful week. Teddy had a great time!! Thanks so much!!
c) Joy and Fletcher had the GREATEST time!!! Thanks SO much ladies!!
d) The kids LOVED it……many thanks.
e) Thank you for the amazing experience you provided…all the children this week at “farm camp.” As a parent, I am always seeking out quality experiences for my girls that will make lasting, positive impressions with a whole lot of fun and learning. By far, this is one of the best experiences (our daughter) has had.
3. The “Summer on the Farm” experience could improve area families’ nutritional traditions.
a) Participants brought home vegetables they harvested to their families.
b) Participants changed their perspective on fresh produce before and after experiencing our program: For example, from our session in 2012, 2 of 13 participants responded yes to the question “Do you like kale?” while 12 of 13 participants responded “yes” after “Summer on the Farm.” Similarly, 5 of 13 participants responded “yes” to the question “Do you like ground cherries” before “Summer on the Farm” while 13 of 13 responded “yes” after “Summer on the Farm.” Thus, the proportion of “Summer on the Farm” participants who like both kale and ground cherries is higher after completing our program (Agresti-Coull binomial confidence interval, p=0.05)
c) The success of our SARE funded project has opened up many other opportunities for our farm, including:
-We have sought out and received additional grants, specifically a Home Depot 2013 Youth Gardening Grant to supplement our farm programming
-Local private and public schools have contacted us for educational farm tours
-Local non-profits focused on youth and gardening have contacted us as collaborators.
-Our partnership with the University of La Crosse Community Health and Education majors has grown due to additional volunteer opportunities with our SARE funded “Summer on the Farm” programming.
d) We have learned that educational farm programming could be a significant part of our farm revenue, either through a non-profit (grant and donation supported) model or through a profit-based model where families pay for the experience. We are currently exploring these options. We can furthermore collaborate with other local farmers who are developing similar programming.
3. WORK PLAN FOR 2013
We have three “Summer on the Farm” sessions scheduled for Summer 2013. We are experimenting with a 2-day session, a 3-day session, and a 4-day session to see which seems to work the best for us, for the parents, and for the participants. Pending approval of our extension request, we will reserve 2 final sessions for 2014. If the extension is not approved we will add 2 more sessions to July 2013.
One issue we are working to resolve is that our SARE proposal has language in it that reserves spaces in the program for children from “families of different cultural backgrounds and various socio-economic levels.” This has been more difficult for us to gauge and ensure than we had anticipated. For example, our 2012 session had participants from area public schools, a Waldorf school, and a Catholic school. One of 14 participants was of a different ethnic background than “white/anglo” but no one self-identified as “families of different cultural backgrounds and various socio-economic levels” on the registration form. In 2012 we requested a refundable $20 deposit, and all families were able to pay this. In 2013, we requested a $50 refundable deposit but also stated that this could be waived if it was a financial inconvenience, and so far 5 of 30 children have requested a waiver of this fee. After exploring this issue more deeply with University of La Crosse Community Health and Education majors this winter, we feel that transportation to our farm may be an issue for diverse potential participants, especially those who would be included in a “low-income” category. As a solution, we are currently in process of contacting local groups such as the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Club who historically both serve children from these populations and have access to transportation to collaborate on future programming.
a) With participants. We had 14 children attend our 2012 pilot program. Parents and grandparents had the opportunity to learn about our farm and programming.
b) With the greater La Crosse community at events: We share information about “Summer on the Farm” at community events we attend such as a “Grow Your Brain” garden party at State Road Public School and a La Crosse Public Library Seed Library talk.
c) At the Cameron Park Farmer’s Market. We attend a weekly summer market where we vend vegetables, flowers, herbs, and beef. This provides our farm with a great platform with which to interact with community members. During last year’s market days preceding and following “Summer on the Farm” we passed out fliers describing our program, and talked with many folks about the details of our program.
d)On facebook. Like many businesses these days, we have an active facebook presence. Our page has grown this year to have 307 likes and an average weekly reach of 263 people. Our posts related to “Summer on the Farm are the most popular: 982 people saw the post announcing our Summer on the Farm sessions for 2013 and 785 people saw the post sharing pictures from the Summer on the Farm session for 2012. The Cameron Park Farmer’s Market, which has 785 likes also shared photos and comments from our 2012 “Summer on the Farm” post on their facebook page.
e)With other farmers. We have a lot of interactions with other farmers at the Cameron Park Famers Market and at various community events. They have all heard about “Summer on the Farm.”
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Lead Teacher, programming
Milwaukee Public Schools
2862 North Bremen St. Apt. 1
Milwaukee, WI 53212
Office Phone: 6082152402
Deep Roots Community Farm
W4406 County Road YY
La Crosse, WI 54601
Office Phone: 6087900155