Earlier this month, 24 excited Hawthorne Elementary students hopped on a school bus and headed out to Tsawwassen to visit the Delta School District’s Farm Roots mini school to learn alongside the secondary school students.
As the bus pulled up to the Boundary Bay farm, the grade two students were greeted by smiling grade 10, 11 and 12 farm students, and the nervous grade twos slowly relaxed.
While Hawthorne’s students were already involved with many garden activities in their own extensive raised garden, Susanna Bohmert, the Hawthorne grade two teacher, felt that the opportunity to work with older students and in a farm setting was a great way to increase the Hawthorne students interest and motivation to becoming stewards of our precious farming lands.
“We came together to form connections with each other and celebrate our farming land,” says Bohmert. “The young students learned about aspects of the farm space and worked cooperatively to conduct chemical experiments on various soil samples.”
The Delta School District initiative to engage elementary students at the farm was initiated by District Principal, Brooke Moore. Bohmert worked with Farm Roots instructors, Tammy Veltkamp and Graham Harkley to plan the interactive day at the farm.
Farm Roots mini school students designed a ‘scavenger hunt’ for their young buddies, which sent the students running all over the farm, solving clues with their big buddies, discovering farm tools, sliding down playground slides and venturing deep into woods.
Said one grade two student, “I loved unscrambling clues! It was super fun working with older buddies, and we got to see lots more of the farm.”
Later in the day, the young agrarians worked with their senior buddies to test the soil’s phosphorus, nitrogen, potash and pH levels.
“Awesome, cool, like being a scientist,” one grade two student commented on the experience. Violet, also in grade two, added that testing the soil was important “so we know what has to be added to the soil”.
Delta’s Farm Roots mini school, which seeks to connect students to the agriculture industry, is nearing the end of its first year. Students from grade 10, 11 and 12 spend every 2nd day at the farm, either working outside on the farm or inside completing other school subjects. They are also provided with the unique opportunity to earn credits from Kwantlen Polytechnic in an agriculture course taught by a visiting professor.
The combined day was an big success and, says Behmert, “it will be an experience the young Hawthorne’s students won’t soon forget.”