Online Staff Report
CALEDONIA, Ill. — In 2010, the United States House of Representatives declared October National Farm to School Month, recognizing the strong role Farm to School plays in promoting good health and strong economies.
There are many exciting ways teachers can celebrate Farm to School Month within classrooms, but what better way than to take their classes on a field trip to a working farm? Angelic Organics Learning Center, a leader in the local food movement, welcomes school groups from all over the region to their farm location in Caledonia to connect students with food and farms through their hands-on programs.
Christa Haverly, fourth- through sixth-grade science teacher from Galapagos Charter School in Rockford, explained how a trip to Angelic Organics Learning Center in May impacted her students.
“Linking the farm trip to our curriculum, including the soil study and lunar cycle, was really meaningful for my scholars,” she said. “Additionally, seeing a garden outside of their school setting and on a much larger scale was impactful as well.”
Haverly will be bringing another group of scholars to the farm this October.
Angelic Organics Learning Center offers groups of all ages the opportunity to visit a working farm, become soil scientists for the day, connect with the farmers and the livestock, milk the goats, collect eggs, harvest organic vegetables straight from the fields and learn how to cook farm-fresh food.
Teachers report that field trips to Angelic Organics Learning Center help meet school or state standards in science, environmental education, physical education and health, social science, and language arts.
Over the past decade, the farm to school movement has exploded across the United States, reaching millions of students in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. From school gardens and farm field trips to local food on cafeteria trays, farm to school practices help children connect with their food and make healthier choices while also creating new markets for local and regional farmers.
“By instilling healthy eating habits early in life, we’re preventing a health crisis and saving on health care spending along the way,” said Anupama Joshi, executive director of the National Farm to School Network (NFSN). “There are other economic benefits as well. Buying direct from local farmers keeps 80 to 90 percent of each dollar in the farmers’ pocket, meaning more money stays in your community.”
To learn more about bringing a class out to Angelic Organics Learning Center, visit http://www.learngrowconnect.org/what/on-farm/group or call (815) 389-8455. To discover other ways to participate in National Farm to School Month, visit http://www.farmtoschoolmonth.org.
Posted Oct. 2, 2013