Did you know that each week multiple classes full of excited children come to The Farm for a field trip? This past week, first graders from Ypsilanti Community School traveled to The Farm to learn how it operates. During the students’ time at The Farm, they were able to feel the texture of the soil and touch the leaves of growing carrots fueling their imagination when thinking about what vegetables need in order to grow. As a future dietitian, I couldn’t help but smile from seeing the results of the children having a hands-on experience with their food. A portion of the children was captivated by Amanda’s lesson on the importance of hoop houses to extend the growing season during the harsh Michigan winters. Other children asked questions that were a result of critical thinking about what a plant needs to survive. A final portion of children spent the majority of their time at The Farm running their hands through the dirt and touching the leaves of each plant they walked by.
A common theme between all of the children was that each student was having a learning experience with food, which sparked a greater appreciation for farms, growth, and being healthy.
One of the experiences we value is allowing the students to try a new vegetable when they are at the farm. This week, the students were able to try the hakurei turnip. Have you heard of this unique turnip variety? This Japanese turnip variety is sometimes referred to as a salad turnip, due to its delicious raw flavor. Many of the children loved the earthy flavor of the hakurei turnip. Some even asked for seconds!
With summer break right around the corner, there are two summer camp opportunities for children at The Farm. The first is called the Farm to table summer camp where children ages 4-7 attend the camp with an adult. At this camp, we harvest fresh produce and explore the science behind growing, eating and cooking food as we learn how to make good food choices. Each day includes hands-on activities and take-home recipes.
The second is called the Farm, Field, and Forest Camp where children grades 2-5 are able to explore our farm, our surrounding native prairie, and our woods along Huron River. Each day we do farm chores, gather information on a hike, and investigate nature through hands-on activities.
Sometimes it takes having a hands on experience and getting a little dirty to have a better appreciation of the beauty that food is. As my title says, a little dirt doesn’t hurt!
About me: Hello! My name is Jen LaBarre and I’m a new dietetic intern at The Farm. I’m studying to get my PhD in Nutritional Sciences at the University of Michigan. I’m passionate about the prevention of obesity and type 2 diabetes, especially in children. When I’m not working, you can find me on a hiking trail or listening to Frank Sinatra while cooking in my kitchen. Cheers!