Back-to-school season is usually a time when kids from Western North Carolina go on farm field trips and meet farmers in the classroom as part of ASAP’s Growing Minds program. This year, distanced learning has put many of these activities on hold, but it’s still a great time for kids to connect with agriculture.
ASAP has embarked on a new project to encourage kids, families, and teachers to explore farms from the safety of their homes. The “Meet Your Farmer” video series features video tours and interviews with farmers and their kids.
In a recent video, 7-year-old Leah and 4-year-old Abe Littman give a tour of their family’s farm. They check out the tomatoes in the greenhouse and fields, talk about when different crops are ready to harvest, and feed some very hungry goats at Ivy Creek Family Farm.
Leah also shares information about the ecosystem of their farm from a kid’s point of view. In the video, she points to Japanese beetles mating on green bean leaves and tells the camera about the bluebirds that eat them. “We just saw birds eating the insects here, so that means bluebirds are omnivores because we’ve seen them on the blueberry bushes, too” she says.
Leah and Abe’s mom, Anna Littman, has her own “Meet Your Farmer” video where she talks about the surprising reason why she became a farmer.
“I became a farmer because I love soil. Soil is miraculous. Some people call soil dirt, but I call it gold because that’s how we grow the food that we need to live,” Anna says. “This soil is alive and all those little organisms help my plants grow. My job is to grow vegetables, but more than anything, my job is to grow good, healthy soil.”
The videos are lively and colorful and really make you feel like you’re at the farm. They’re also a jumping off point to take this experiential knowledge to the next level. Below each video, there are links to Growing Minds lesson plans for various ages that go into more depth on the topics that are covered in the video. For example, Anna Littman’s video is paired with lesson plans about soil exploration and starting seeds.
Growing Minds program coordinator Gwen Hill explains that these videos and lesson plans were designed with remote learning in mind.
“Teachers who might be using various educational platforms to do Zoom calls and share content with their students remotely could plug in a video of an interview with a local farmer and then use some of the lesson plans or something they’ve created for a supplemental lesson around that video,” Gwen says.
Families are encouraged to watch the videos and try the lesson plans at home, too. There are cooking projects that correspond with the videos and information about how to start a fall garden that will feed children’s minds and bodies all season.
Although this method of sharing farm experiences is different from past years, the goals of ASAP’s Growing Minds program remain the same.
“Farm to school is all about connecting kids and families with locally grown food in order to connect them with members of their community,” Gwen says. “It’s also to get kids more excited about eating local food and eating fruits and vegetables, and to get them interested in the outdoors and the wonder and the joy that comes from being outside.”
Stay tuned for more videos of farmers and farm kids in our region. Teachers, families, and children can access the videos and lesson plans at www.growing-minds.org.
Aired August 31, 2020