This fall and winter, in addition to our regular programs, field trips, and two large-scale community events, we hosted two immersions (Stanbridge Academy and Orion Montessori). Our immersion program allows students to experience farm life to the fullest. They have the chance to explore the main farm, do daily animal chores, complete a work project over multiple days, hike to our redwood circle, cook meals together, and more. Each activity is tailored to the group and Farm Discovery instructors find ways to tie in learning in the classroom and home lives in creative and engaging ways throughout.
In January, Orion Montessori students came for our first ever winter immersion. Being in California, there’s still a lot of work to be done on the farm and these students were eager to help, clearing beds of last seasons crops and weeds, cleaning animal areas, taking out compost, and more. Orion’s student’s are from San Jose, had never been on a farm before ours, and many had never been camping. They were an energetic bunch that seemed to embrace every activity and chance for learning with awe and joy.
This group was also particularly interested in ‘survival skills,’ and tools for being self-sufficient. This included fire and shelter building, but also cooking, and for many, washing dishes and cleaning for the first time. Students and teachers alike also really enjoyed lessons on California natural history during our redwood hike and making tools from natural materials (especially whistles from the tops of acorns!). One teacher said, “I enjoyed each and every moment. Especially having opportunity for children to participate in cooking, dishes, and farm work.” This teacher was not alone in her appreciation of the event. Another said the best part for her was, “being in the redwoods, disconnecting with everything and just relaxing.”
A memorable moment from our staff was after lighting the campfire we built together and getting s’mores ready, learning that it was the first campfire for almost all of the kids. It’s being able to be a part of such important moments in kids’ lives that makes all the work of immersions so worthwhile! Orion Montessori plans on bringing the same students back for an immersion in each season so they get to experience the full spectrum of farm life.
In other exciting news, our first internship period is coming to a close and the hiring process for the next 10-month cycle has begun. Our current intern Kirra, will be leaving at the end of March. Though we are sad to see her go, we are excited that she has already secured two local jobs; one at Lonely Mountain Farms and one at Wild Poppies Olive Oil Hobby Farm. Her goal is to continue to build farming skills and eventually start one of her own where she hosts community workshops and events. We’re so proud of how much she’s grown and look forward to her next chapter as she continues to follow her passions!