Joining a community farm was a personal education. It taught me it was OK to get my hands a little dirty when it came to my food. I learned that onion seeds are tiny, why strawberries taste best in June and that I actually really like kale.
And, I discovered that getting out and walking in the fields, breathing fresh air, opening my eyes and looking up at the sky had a restorative effect that countered the fast-paced, high-tech world I typically inhabit.
Restoration Farm seeded my agricultural education, and now head growers Caroline Fanning and Dan Holmes are making it official by launching a full slate of education programs for children and adults as part of the 2014 growing season at the Old Bethpage CSA.
Fanning says she and Holmes had admired the thriving education program at the upstate Poughkeepsie Farm Project and had intended to weave a similar component into the fabric of Restoration Farm, but in the initial years, the couple had their hands full just trying to grow vegetables. They were convinced, however, the farm had great potential as an outdoor classroom.
“A seven-acre farm in a densely populated area is naturally going to generate a lot of interest,” say Fanning. “Plus we’re located on public land, so we felt an obligation to open our doors to people who wanted to learn.”
The adult program includes workshops on backyard chickens, home canning, lacto-fermentation and medicinal herbs. Aspiring young farmers have the chance to visit with chickens and pull carrots from the ground. The student program for schools, camps and youth groups offers a vegetable discovery walk and tours on organic farming, ecosystems and berries, fruit trees and perennials found in edible landscapes.
For more information on specific programs and schedules, visit http://restorationfarm.com/ed.html
T.W. Barritt blogs at culinarytypes.blogspot.com