We have been busy breaking ground (and swiftly covering the soil with mulch). This week marked our very first harvest of crops from our fledgling farm nestled along the Hawkesbury River. Picked at dawn and delivered to our Children by lunchtime, we had crates of lettuce, pak choy, and rocket ready to be prepared into nutritious stir-frys and salads for the day.
Why are we doing this, you might ask?
We want to revolutionise the way Children learn! By involving them in the process, educating them about the steps and letting them eat the fruits of their own labour, our children will come to understand the union between themselves and the living things around them! Farming and environmental education teaches them just that and brings to the table much more than physical benefits, but developmental, emotional and sensory benefits.
We are nurturing our organically-grown crops from seed all the way to their delivery at our ToBeMe Early Learning Centres. Our crops will be prepared into nutritious meals with some unusual heirloom varieties of vegetables never seen on your average supermarket shelves. As the season progresses, our crops will cycle into summer staples such as cucumber, basil, eggplant, carrots, beetroot, green beans, tomatoes, onions, and zucchini. All grown locally within the Sydney-basin reducing the food miles that taint a lot of vegetables we all love and enjoy.
Some much welcome Spring rain has helped our Syntropic food forest settle into it’s planting design. Whilst our young fruit trees of avocado, blueberry, passionfruit, nectarine, almond, bananas, mangoes, apples, and oranges mature over the next couple of years we are making use of the extra growing space to grow annual vegetables.
Growing nutritious food goes all the way down to looking after and analyzing our soils. Having our friend Marko Berndt, a soil consultant, help out behind a microscope to provide a living picture of the health of our soil. Using principles of organic and regenerative farming we will be building our soils rather than extracting and exposing them, as conventional farming practices tend to do. Once the cycle of building, building and building our soils with the living mulch in our system gets to work, our soil can work for us. Further analysis will see not only the photosynthetic levels of our crops improve but mineral and nutrient levels rise with them too.
Involving Children with our food systems is a sure way to help empower them going into the future, becoming more aware of the seasons and crops that come with those changes throughout the year. Our seed-ball activity saw the Children heavily engaged with the lifecycle of plants and explaining the ideas behind having companion plants with our vegetable crops that will help the system support itself, much like a rainforest.
As the weather warms into Summer the abundance of crops will grow and grow at The Happy Farm. Having the opportunity to show Children our food systems and how to eat healthy will be an exciting learning experience for us all!
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