Field Trip Activities

All of our field trips engage students in hands-on, farm-based activities in our outdoor classroom. Most activities can be tailored to meet the needs of any age level or ability. While specifics vary by season and often depend on what is happening on the farm, below are a few of the activities that frequently occur at the Youth Farm. If you have any special requests on which activities you would like to include, or if there are any learning goals or vocabulary you would like included during your time spent with us, please let us know on your registration form. Once you register, be sure to check out some of the resources we have available for before and after your visit, found here.

Planting and Harvesting

Whether planting seeds or transplants, students learn about growing food right from the start. This includes learning about plant needs and care, as well as soil and it's resident decomposers. Detours to investigate worms and spiders are encouraged. Planting occurs mainly in spring and late summer, while harvesting takes place throughout the season, with the largest and most diverse harvests in late summer and fall. In the late fall, we often harvest seeds to use the following spring! Students use the produce they harvest in our outdoor kitchen, and participate in service learning as they pack the rest for donation to the Goodman Community Center food pantry.

Weeding, Mulching, Watering, and Composting

Farming is hard work - but hard work that pays off! Our student farmers are invited to experience all the steps involved in bringing food from farm to fork, with a little plant biology along the way. Students may learn about different root system adaptations of weeds, the functions of straw mulch, or how our drip irrigation system works to conserve water. No matter the task, students practice working cooperatively and accomplishing a collective goal. We also believe in whistling while you work - longest-root weeding competitions, compost target practice, corny vegetable jokes, and dirty-hand high fives wind their way into our farm chores. 

Farm-to-Table Cooking

Pesto on the bike blender, vegetable crostini toasted on the fire, apple crisp in the sun oven - these are just a few of the delicious recipes students prepare in the Youth Farm's outdoor kitchen. Cooking activities are available for all ages, and always include plenty of tasting. As we strive to use as many ingredients as possible straight from the farm, recipes may vary by season. 

Check out our recipes blog for some of our most loved garden recipes!

 Outdoor Art

The outdoors is the perfect place to be inspired, and to create. Students may create art for use on the farm, such as colorful garden signs or display pieces, or art inspired by the farm, such as poems and drawings based on their experience. Students may also create ephemeral "Earth Art" from natural objects, or edible art with vegetables and flowers.

Composting

Students get to understand the full cycle of nutrients at the Youth Farm by observing the changes between three working compost systems, exploring their contents and levels of decomposition, and searching for different types of decomposers. Students will then work together to sift the finished compost and apply it to various crops in the field, helping to feed our current crops and enhance the soil for future years.  

Seed Saving

Students will collect seeds from various plants out in the field such as tall climbing beans whose pods contain a rainbow of colors. They get to explore the entire plant life cycle, from seed through plant, flower, pollination, and seed again as they collect, compare, and package these seeds. A portion of the saved seeds are kept for the following season to replant by students at the Youth Farm. The rest are packed up in little seed packets and placed in our Little Free Seed Library where they can be borrowed by neighbors, visiting schools, and other community members. 

Tasty Tours

Students get to know all the aspects of the Youth Farm during our tours. Catered to the age group of the students, we modify the tour to better suite the group. Older students make several stops allowing students to dig deeper into all the aspects of the Youth Farm - the prairie, the bees, the orchard, and the community gardens. We can also design a tour of our farm fields, to help students become more familiar with crop names and families. For our youngest students, we may explore senses, colors and shapes, or the path of a bee in the garden. These tours always encourage students to taste along the way, giving them the opportunity to try an abundance of crops. Tours can almost always be re-imagined as scavenger hunts, if desired!

Beekeeping

The Goodman Youth Farm is lucky to steward two active beehives next to its restored prairie area.  Youth learn how the bees benefit the farm as pollinators, as well as the environmental threats facing hives in the 21st century. In spring and fall students can visit the hives for a hands on demonstration to see the bees in action, and participate in pollinator lessons and games to learn about the important roles bees have on our farm. During the summer months, beekeeping students assist with hive inspections and participate in the entire process of honey extraction. The honey gets tasted by many visiting students and is used in our outdoor kitchens weekly. Students also learn how to make beeswax lip balm from our hives.

Please note: In order to provide the best experience for both students and bees, beekeeping activities will be dependant upon size of group, timing of visit, hive management schedule, and other factors. Not all beekeeping activities will be possible for every group. However, if you would like your students to experience the bees, please inquire with the Youth Farm Manager during the field trip registration process.
 
“Now that I know the bees, I never want to leave them.  This is the calmest I’ve ever been. I’ have to tell my mom!” 
–Middle school student who was initially scared, yet eager, to help with the bees