News from the Farm | April 14, 2014

The Third Graders Are Coming!

Spring has always been my favorite time here on the farm. Most people enjoy the beautiful flowers popping up, the green rolling hills, and the birth of the myriad baby animals. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of the aforementioned changes that happen during this time of year, but it’s the arrival of the third graders here at our farm that brings me the most joy. Springtime for me means school group season, and it is my job to teach groups of rambunctious Waldorf third graders about farming.

I began working at Full Belly eight summers ago, when I was asked to be a camp counselor for the farm’s summer camp program. During the first summer I was simply a camp counselor. I loved being a camp counselor so much that the next summer I found myself back at the farm. Over the years I began to pick up more leadership roles during summer camp. I began teaching lessons, which meant others depended on my knowledge of the farm. Eventually, I could not be torn away from the farm. I would arrive weeks before camp started and would remain weeks after camp had ended working in the fields or the shop, helping with anything that needed doing. Half way through college, I decided that I wanted to return to Full Belly Farm after graduation.

I graduated from the University of Wyoming in the spring of 2012, and shortly thereafter I moved to the farm to become a full time employee. For the first six months I spent much of my time doing everything and anything that needed to get done. Spring of 2013 was when the real fun began. This is when I started working closely with Hallie for school group season. We worked hard together, teaching children and providing an excellent on the farm experience.  This year, now that Hallie is spending more time in the office, I am in charge of leading all of the school groups and I couldn’t be happier about this new role.

I get immense joy from working with the third graders that arrive almost every weekday from the beginning of April to the end of May. I have found that third graders are at a very special age.  They are eager to learn, not afraid of a little hard work, and are still filled with the innocent curiosity of a younger child. During their stay, they do everything from milking the cow to harvesting hundreds of vegetables to packing the CSA boxes that are sent to your very own home. They sleep in the walnut orchard under a beautiful canopy of green spring leaves and brightly shining stars. They play in the refreshing cool water of the creek when the weather heats up and they enjoy fresh produce picked with their own two hands.


The education program at Full Belly Farm is almost older than I am and already have we seen people return to the farm. Last summer we had two different women get married on the farm both of whom had visited the farm as third graders. It’s our hope that we can continue to have people come back to the farm, whether its to get married, be an intern, or become a dedicated CSA member. Over the years we’ve established roots in other communities to foster the growth of agricultural knowledge around us.

Agriculture illiteracy is a huge problem here in the United States and it’s important that farms play their role in being a part of the solution. Our answer, or at least one of them, is teaching children about farming when they are young.  Having them experience the joys and trials of farming brings them closer to the land now and hopefully forever. It’s our hope that the third graders return home after spending a night or two here on the farm and take with them the many lessons they have learned. In doing so, they themselves become teachers of these lessons to those in their community, encouraging others to forge a connection with land, farming and real food.

This spring, take time to enjoy the blooming flowers, the babies being born, and the knowledge that kids are getting their hands dirty in our rich soil.

–Jordan Dixon