Island Community Farm yields more than veggies
The Jamestown Community Farm will open on Tuesday mornings starting next week as part of a new program that will give children with autism and behavioral disorders hands-on experience with local agriculture.
Farm Manager Bob Sutton said the farm will be open on Tuesdays from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Farm volunteers will work alongside the students and teachers from the Jamestown School.
Sutton has worked hard to expand the community education programs at the farm. "This is part of what the community farm is all about. It keeps the farm active in the community and fits with our goals," he said.
Sutton, who serves on the Jamestown Town Council, would like to involve more island youngsters in activities at the farm. He believes that teaching our youth about how and where we obtain our food are important lessons as we strive to maintain a local sustainable economy.
Kids have a better understanding of the agriculture process when they get to see where the food is grown. Hands-on lessons leave a lasting impression on eager young minds.
The school program is partially funded through a National Science Foundation grant, according to Bob Fricklas, director of student services at the Jamestown School.
"The essence of the program is to give students experiential learning through a non-traditional community hands-on approach," he said. "The community is the classroom."
The program, which will start small as a pilot effort, will eventually serve students in several grade levels. The goal is to expand the program at both Melrose and Lawn Avenue Schools, Fricklas said.
We have begun to recognize that food grown locally is better for the environment than food that is shipped here from the other side of the globe and that locally grown food is also healthier for us because it is often grown organically.
Next week the Jamestown School students will pick the ripe vegetables in the fields, sort and weigh the vegetables, and then sell the veggies to the public at the farm stand.
Fricklas said the farm experience will provide the students with a real-world approach to math, science and social skills.
Islanders are invited to stop by the community farm on Eldred Lane for fresh beans, squash, peppers and cucumbers. Tomotoes will be ripe in about one week, Sutton said.
The community farm stand is also open on Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Volunteers staff the farm stand in the morning. Veggies are available in the afternoon through the honor system.
Volunteers are welcome to help at the farm on Tuesday mornings, Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and Saturday mornings.
— Jeff McDonough