I go to a really cool school. We have two beehives and a 7,000 square foot greenhouse, which used to be an old greenhouse, but is now recycled and updated for our use. I love walking in when the seedlings are growing because it smells alive—I can’t really describe the smell as anything other than a mix of dirt, beans and tomatoes. We now share the greenhouse with The Food Project of Boston. They grow food for people who are hungry.
Because I am interested in farming and animalsand I go to this cool school I decided to start a Farm Club. I asked my smart science teacher if she would help us get going and she said, “Of Course!” Our winter discussions focused on what we should do for Farm Club and our approach for executing our plan. What should we cover? How should we use the greenhouse? Should Farm Club be about food, animals, soil, or all of it?
First, I thought we would start with learning about soil. That’s why we started vermicomposting, but then I realized I was probably the only one who thought worms and worm poop was amazing. I learned about vermicomposting from Will Allen at Growing Power. He takes food waste from Milwaukee and gives it to his worms to turn it into something useful: rich powerful soil to grow food in.
Our Farm Club met on Wednesdays in the Spring Semester. To my surprise, Farm Club was the first club to fill up. I’d like to credit farming curiosity as the reason why kids were so excited, but I really think most thought we were going to have baby sheep, chickens, and lambs—a “farm” classroom of cute baby animals. I hope they weren’t disappointed. Even I can admit that worm poop just isn’t the same as a cute baby duck.
So, what do we do in Farm Club? Well, we:
- Vermicompost of all of our leftover lunch food;
- Plant vegetable seeds and organize a seedling sale (instead of a bake sale);
- Bring rain barrels (with the money raised) to water the greenhouse;
- Let my home chickens graze and fertilize around the greenhouse;
- Support a home-made bee garden to help our bees; and
- Have fun together talking about bees, worms, vegetables, and pollination.
Next year it’s going to be different. I hope we will be able to operate all year long, so our projects can be longer than a few months. Also, my school added tilapia aquaponics to our greenhouse, so we will be able to work with fish.
People ask me if I wanted to start Farm Club to get kids to eat better. Nope. Not at all. I selfishly wanted to start it because bees, chickens, and fresh food is cool and I thought some of the other kids would think so too, if they had the opportunity to get involved with the club. I also wanted kids to think about where their food comes from (especially related to factory farms).
Has Farm Club changed any of my classmates’ minds about food or the treatment of farm animals? I think so. I know for a fact that when you grow a vegetable yourself it tastes better. The tomatoes in the supermarket aren’t tomatoes. They may look like a tomato, but they don’t taste like one. No wonder kids hate vegetables—the ones at the supermarket taste terrible.
Also, I think by meeting my amazing hens (I raise them at home), kids thought about what eating chicken really means. I don’t want kids to feel bad about eating meat, I just want them to think about it. Remember meeting my hen Sweet Sugar, just remember. I personally think you can taste the torture from factory-farmed meat. But Farm Club isn’t about telling people how I feel about local, sustainable agriculture. I just want to introduce my school to these awesome animals and fresh produce and let every person decide for himself why farming is cool.
Photos: Libby DeLana