This week, first and second grade classes took the first field experiences of the school year to the Moraga Garden Farm. Field experiences are valuable learning opportunities typically central to education at Saklan. Since March, Saklan has postponed this time-proven ritual, but that did not hamper the kids’ enthusiasm and curiosity while off campus.
The farmers were busy winterizing the farm, and the children saw the community members hard at work. They discussed the many benefits of community farms, such as health and wellbeing, land conservation, shared knowledge, human connection, volunteerism, and being close to the food process. They learned about other types of community gardens worldwide, such as multigenerational allotment gardens in the UK/Europe, market gardens in developing nations, urban gardens and school gardens.
Most trips to the Farm happen during primary growing seasons of late spring and summer, but there was no shortage of exploration and investigation in the winterized version. Students got their hands dirty in the fertile soil while searching for evidence of decomposition and composting. They walked in large composting bins showcasing several stages of organic soil generation. Saklan students learned how organic farming methods can avoid chemicals ending up in the food. Fortunately, the field experience timing was perfect to see the cover crop that had just been planted – fava beans. Fava plants input nitrogen where summer vegetables have depleted the soil, as well as provide weed control, safe harbor for beneficial biodiversity, and reduction in rain erosion.
Lastly, a trip to the Moraga Garden Farm is not complete without a visit with the chickens. Students were extremely curiuos to see chickens during molting season, where old feathers are replaced by new feathers to prepare for winter. This experience was best summed up by a second-grader saying, “you can really see how chickens descended from dinosaurs and maybe aliens too!”
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