Children learn by doing. Knowing this, The Mead School has a long history of bringing learning to life through experiences. It's been a crazy year, so the 3-5 teaching team was especially thrilled this past week to do what we weren't sure we could pull off during this time like no other. With the tremendous support of our administrative team and parent body, we went on this year's only school field trip!
In celebration of National Gardening Month and the reinvigoration of our garden curriculum, Mead's 3-5th grade students visited Fairgate Farm in downtown Stamford this past Wednesday. Fairgate Farm is a community garden run largely by volunteers that conducts educational programs and operates as an outdoor classroom working with area schools and other non-profit organizations. The farm partners with community organizations to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to local, food-insecure populations.
This trip to Fairgate Farm is also directly connected to one of my favorite literary units to teach. Seedfolks, by Paul Fleischman, is a book about community and what it means to see other people fully. Arranged in 13 chapters – each in a different first-person voice – Seedfolks is populated by characters who come from distinct places and perspectives and often bring language and cultural barriers that, at first blush, prevent them from being in community. What follows in the novel is a transformation of a community through a small, urban community garden.
After completing Seedfolks, Mead's fourth and fifth graders brainstormed what they knew or thought they knew about community gardens before traveling to Fairgate Farm to make discoveries and expand our knowledge and our thinking. We were greeted and supported by Heidi Andersen, Fairgate's Outreach Coordinator, who taught our students all about different growing seasons, how greenhouses can extend those seasons, gardening without soil (hydroponic gardening), composting, and many other technical aspects of gardening. We also learned about the heart of the garden and that Fairgate, not unlike the garden in Seedfolks, is fundamentally about humans connecting to and caring for each other.
Students planted radishes and weeded with unparalleled enthusiasm. They watered the beds and dug in the dirt. They learned by doing, which is how we like it at Mead. Our students worked and played with purpose and great joy, and it was an honor to be alongside them in their discovery. Once back at school, our very own Adam Ellyson carved a new sign for Fairgate Farms, which students and teachers all signed to show our immense gratitude.
CLICK HERE to view video highlights of the trip!