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Farming for the Future
The Olney Friends School all-student farm program, farming smart for the future:
1. Farming for the future will protect and create healthy soil:
- Define what healthy soil is;
- Recognize the agricultural practices that enhance/protect healthy soil and those that ruin healthy soil;
- Learn how long it takes to develop soil and how fast we are losing it now;
- Classroom projects: Environmental Science soil unit/lab of double digging;
- Chemistry soil testing;
- Humanities 10 while digging potatoes talk about soil, plowing on contour, winter cover crops;
- Humanities 12 while planting tulips and herbs talk about soil, compost;
- Humanities 11 while harvesting buckwheat talk about soil.
2. Smart farming uses much less petroleum (has a much lower carbon footprint):
- Compare petroleum used in organic, local, and conventional foods.
- For every meal a person can eat locally, 16 barrels or 672 gallons of oil are saved. So if we were able to have one all-local meal a week, Olney Friends School would save 2,419,200 gallons of oil.
- Kitchen and farm staff making announcements about farm/local ingredients at the noon meal, at Morning Collection, and printing asterisks on the menu to designate farm/local items.
- Humanities 12 studies industrialization of food, tours big chicken farm vs. Olney’s chickens, reads Michael Pollen’s chapter on tulips, plants tulips.
- ELL class helps to take care of pigs.
- Whenever possible, have classes plant and harvest our vegetables and fruit and take care of animals for our meat and eggs.
3. Smart farming grows healthy food:
- Eating more vegetables and food without toxins, meat, milk and eggs from grass-fed animals improves heart health and decreases chance of diabetes and problems associated with obesity.
- Health class project, reinforced with food bulletin board and announcements.
- Further increase the number of fresh green vegetable and whole-grain choices available.
4. Farming for the future uses non-GMO genetically diverse varieties saved and selected for our locale:
- Humanities 10 reads potato chapter in Michael Pollen’s Botany of Desire; digs potatoes; taste-tests potato varieties.
- Humanities 10 grows early American dinner of beans, corn, pumpkin (uses heirloom varieties).
- Humanities 9 focuses on apples (collect, make cider, make apple butter, observe/taste wild apples and varieties of developed apples).
- Humanities 11 plants, harvests, and cooks buckwheat and barley with honey.
- Humanities 9 plants, harvests, and cooks a victory garden.
- Farm grows non-GMO heirloom grains (buckwheat, hard spring wheat, corn, rye, oats) for kitchen use and for chicken/hog feed.
- Farm saves seed and selects seed that excels in our location: field peas (nitrogen-fixing green manure crop and dried peas), field corn (from genetically diverse non-GMO strain), other grains (rye, wheat, and oats); 9 types of dried beans.
5. Healthy low-carbon footprint meat is based on grass-fed animals:
- Celebrate school beef in announcements; give out relevant facts.
- School farm raises all beef used at school, most of pork.
- Support local agriculture businesses/economy (feed store, butcher shop).
- Enjoy eggs from free-range chickens (on hiatus 2011-2012); meat from free-range chickens fed locally grown feed.
6. How/what to grow in your own individual garden: grow vegetables in a small, beautiful way that provides significant calories.
- The Quadrangle and Sunnyside gardens, adjacent to the Main Building: Use as demonstration gardens, and also as a site for Meeting for Worship and general hangout areas.
- Conceptual Physics class uses garden tools in simple tools section.
- Humanities, Environmental Science, and Chemistry classes use nearby gardens as needed.
- Art class uses for inspiration, paints furniture and/or signs.
- Geometry class figures out areas of beds and vegetables that can be grown there.
7. Improve/educate students’ palates.
- Guest chefs use our own ingredients.
- Taste tests when we have lots of varieties of any particular vegetable/fruit, for example the apple taste testing and celebration of our orchard.
- At every opportunity, train palate to taste differences and enjoy foods without salt, butter, or sugar.
- Work to get community buy-in on having vegetables in season. Celebrate first and last harvests (e.g., lots of summer squash in summer, lots of kale in winter, not same vegetables year round).
- Identify names of many vegetables in Spanish and ELL classes.
- Welcome and encourage vegetable recipes and types from native countries.
- Ask for student input in planning seed order.
8. At every opportunity, teach responsibility as consumer to support smart agriculture.
- Eating local vegetables in season reduces carbon footprint, because little transportation, processing, and storage costs.
- Eating vegetables (e.g., winter squash, potatoes, root vegetables) that can be stored in root cellar saves processing costs and electricity.
9. At every opportunity, teach how to work in a team.
- At every opportunity, teach how to work with your body.
- Help girls/women learn how to use tools easily.
- Teach boys how to pace their work.
- Learn working song.
- Work in line along whole field.
- Get a big job done quickly.
- Farming as a sport.
10. At every opportunity, teach how to use and take care of tools.
- Have tool shed, with oil, linseed, rags, sharpening tools, labeled hanging places.
- Buy more and better-quality tools.
- Have tool training “certification” before allowed to use tools; give certificate.