Field Trips: Sustainable Farming
From the farm to the table, with the classroom in between. Many farms across Canada follow organic practices and use natural methods to keep the soil fertile instead of chemicals. They welcome visitors to come and learn more about sustainable farming and food production. The following are a sampling of such farms that offer educational programs for school groups. Activities include discussing social and ecological aspects of food production as well as some good, old-fashioned farm work. Alternatively, you can contact your local sustainable farm, many of which welcome visitors for a tour.
The UBC Farm is a 24-ha integrated production farm that grows and cultivates over 200 varieties of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. In 2003, in partnership with Faculty of Education, the farm began providing opportunities for elementary school students. Visiting classes would start their own garden and return to tend to them in the summer months. They would work together with volunteer farmers. Today, the educational program at WonderFarms has grown. Every spring and autumn, UBC Farm offers field trips for every age group. Students can tour the farm and visit different educational stations to learn about topics such as annual plant life cycles, basic soil science, organic farming, and the role of farms in our food system. As well, local and global topics may be covered for example, food security, and sustainability.
Growing Up Organic is a garden- and farm-based educational program for children and youth, provided by the Canadian Organic Growers association in the Ottawa region in partnership with All Things Food and Eastern Ontario Agri-Food Network. Although the group’s main focus is to provide teachers with the tools, resources, and workshops to create school gardens, they can also help educators identify suitable local organic farms for field trips. While at the farm, students harvest food to bring back to the classroom where they can prepare a meal with a local chef or nutritionist.
ManoRun Farm is family operated and located in Lynden, Ontario. The farm produces a variety of vegetables that are sold at local farmer’s markets and directly to families through a community food share initiative. ManoRun also offers an educational program for school groups called The Cycle of a Farm. The four activities teach students the value of local sustainable food, as well as organic farming. They include a discovery walk through the sustainable field and interacting with livestock to learn the animals’ role in our diet and soil fertility.