A Survey

Are there teachers interested in conducting an informal survey of how many of their students actually live on a farm? During October, designated our Farm to School Month, it seems a natural subject for teachers to ask the question, especially with unique (should we call them ‘ulterior’ ?) motives behind the fact-finding. What’s the purpose?

Consider the school surroundings. Are their farms within a few miles of the school buildings? Are most of them row crop farms, fruit and vegetables farms, or both, with neither type in the majority? Maybe there are vineyards or commercial poultry operations, a fast-vanishing dairy operation or even the humble pig farm close by.

The last Farm to School Census took place in 2015 and produced a survey that took into account all self-reported Farm to School activities by each school involved taking place across the country.  The Farm to School Census is coming to your inbox again in 2019 to evaluate data from the 2017-2018 school year. We are half-way through the fall semester – so now is a good time to think about how to track your farm to school activities.

If teachers found their students had farmer-parents, wouldn’t those farms be a natural resource for lesson plans? Rather than scheduling a field trip to a remote location and having a stranger trying to explain farming in twenty minutes to fifteen restless schoolkids, wouldn’t it be better to visit Jimmy Brown’s family farm? The students could bring a sandwich and picnic under the apple orchard trees while Jimmy told everyone about how his grandfather worked that same farm years ago. Getting a look at the hard work everyone does on a farm might show the city kids why Jimmy sometimes misses school, helping to get the crops in. The farm kids might realize the city kids really don’t know how their food gets into those plastic-wrapped packages until someone explains the process to them. Another advantage is that shared experiences, even for just an afternoon, usually leads to fewer misunderstandings between peer groups.

What seed will you plant today?

Terri Jenkins-Brady

Dixie Chile Ranch