Back-to-school can be an exciting time for new experiences, new friends, and hopefully, some new activities. Whether you’re looking for music lessons, gymnastics classes, or for your child to get outside and get their hands dirty, we’ve got it all in this year's After School Activities Guide

Noozhawk sat down with Kelly Campbell, education director at the Center for Urban Agriculture at Fairview Gardens, to ferret out the details about their after-school and teen program.

Center for Urban Agriculture at Fairview Gardens

Question: What is the name of your After School Program? What is its mission?

The Farm Days program gives children the freedom to explore, harvest, create and most importantly, come together to enjoy and appreciate nature in a profound way.
The Farm Days program gives children the freedom to explore, harvest, create and most importantly, come together to enjoy and appreciate nature in a profound way. (Center for Urban Agriculture at Fairview Gardens photo)

Answer: We offer two opportunities for students after school: Farm Days! After School Program and the Teen Permaculture Program.

Farm Days encourages children to develop a long term relationship with the land and explore learning and creativity beyond the walls of the classroom. Participants are able to witness the change of seasons and enjoy the great abundance of our farm.

The teen permaculture apprenticeship is an experiential opportunity to learn and work on the land.

Building forts, making art and crafts, and taking care of the chickens, are some of the most popular after-school activities.
Building forts, making art and crafts, and taking care of the chickens, are some of the most popular after-school activities. (Center for Urban Agriculture at Fairview Gardens photo)

Permaculture, originally known as permanent agriculture, is a thoughtful design strategy used to regenerate the soil, the land, and the community living upon it. The teen apprenticeship allows participants to survey various aspects and design strategies of permaculture.

Q: What is the age range for children to take part in your program?

A: Farm Days, After School Program is suited for students ages 4-8, while the Teen Permaculture Apprenticeship is designed for students 13-18.

Fairview Gardens also offers programs for youth of all ages, including toddlers, in our Sprouts! Program, and school-age children in our Homeschoolers on the Farm Program.

We also host year-round farm tours for community groups and classes.

Q: Describe the activities that will be involved.

A: Farm Days focuses on a different theme in nature every week, with songs, games, crafting, cooking from the land, and plenty of free play woven throughout. Similarly, each session of the teen apprenticeship will be new endeavor, covering all 12 permaculture design principles while exploring existing examples on the farm and implementing new ones.

Teen Apprentices will apply their newly acquired skills and create a design plan for a designated parcel of land on the farm. The program concludes with apprentice presentations of their designs.

Q: What can parents expect their kids to gain from participating in Farm Days or the teen program?

A: Participants of Farm Days learn to problem solve and embrace their unique talents and personalities through team building and self-initiated projects. Children also gain an increased connection to and appreciation of nature and their food.

Parents of our teen apprentices can expect their students to gain a solutions-based perspective into the world of agriculture, while developing or strengthening their leadership skills and heightening their awareness of some of the environmental issues we face as a society.

Q: Describe what makes Fairview Garden’s program unique and worthwhile.

A: All of our programs allow children to unplug from technology and connect to their innate desires for play and creativity in a natural setting.

At Fairview Gardens, the 12.5 acres of land allows kids the freedom to explore, harvest, create and most importantly, come together to enjoy and appreciate nature in a remarkable way. The teen apprenticeship is the only of its kind in this area. Apprentices are mentored by our team of staff and empowered to think critically and create solutions.

Q: When was your program started and what was the inspiration for creating it?

A: Farm Days was started in 2011 by former director Mark Tollefson. The intention behind its creation was to offer a setting after school where kids could create, learn, play and connect with natural world and their food source.

The teen apprenticeship was launched in fall of 2015, by Quail Spring’s Juna Muller who saw a significant need for offering this type of coursework in our community to budding young adults.

Q: Has any part of the program changed since it was created?

A: Every week of Farm Days is unique. It is constantly changing, just as nature does.

The core structure of the Teen Apprenticeship has remained the same, consisting of blended discussion, stewardship action on the farm, and the application of principles into a design, ending in a presentation. However, the program is teen-centric and each season has its own flavor as the unique composition of young people changes year-to-year.

Q: What is the best part, in your opinion, about your after school program?

A: Watching children grow over the course of the program is the most rewarding aspect of all. Some kids have had little to no experience on a farm or have lacked the freedom to explore in a natural space.

This program lets them dig in deep each week, allowing them to push their boundaries further and to really appreciate nature and all that it gives us in a new light. The diversity of skills and activities presented in both programs allow for natural curiosities to blossom and carry over onto the students future.

Q: Describe a favorite activity for children in your program.

A: Harvesting farmed and wild foods to turn into yummy snacks with both programs is always a hit. Whether it be building forts, making art, or taking care of our chickens during Farm Days or making herbal salves with the Teen Apprentices, Fairview has something for everyone!

Q: In what ways is your program educational?

A: Nature-themed curriculum exposes participants to a variety of educational topics, including ecology, ethnobotany, nutrition, and much more. Like our Homeschool Program, the Afterschool Program follows the natural curiosities and interests of the children  and projects are often self-initiated.

The teen apprenticeship covers fiber movements, watersheds, alternative economics, and farmworkers’ rights, while seeking solutions for a sustainable world. Learning modalities are fully experiential, allowing participants to learn by doing and providing a deeper understanding of content.

Q: Is there anything else parents should know when deciding whether to send their kids to your program?

A: Farm Days is an ideal program for kids who like to be outside, get dirty, prepare and enjoy tasty organic snacks, and explore their creativity.

The permaculture apprenticeship is the perfect program for teens who are eager to connect with their food and their environment while working towards forming long-term sustainable solutions.

For the budding naturalist, chef, gardener, or animal lover, Fairview Gardens After School Program is the place to grow.

To find out more, or to sign up online, please visit fairviewgarden.org. 

The teen apprenticeship program teaches participants the 12 core permaculture design principles and allows them to apply those skills by creating their very own plan for a parcel of land on the farm.
The teen apprenticeship program teaches participants the 12 core permaculture design principles and allows them to apply those skills by creating their very own plan for a parcel of land on the farm. (Center for Urban Agriculture at Fairview Gardens photo)

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