8 Western MA Farm Programs Offer Education for Families

Learning on the Farm

Red Gate Farm is located in Buckland, MA, and provides opportunities for school groups to visit and engage in the daily life of a working farm. School groups can visit for three days, during which they take care of the farm animals, buildings and people. There is more information available at www.redgatefarm.org. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

There is no better place to learn than your neighborhood farm and no better time than the spring and summer!

Whether you are looking for a place to go with your family on the weekend, your home-schooling group during the weekdays, or a summer camp for your kids, the following list of farm based learning opportunities are great places to check out. Many of them even have programs just for adults! No need for the kids to have all of the fun.

  • Winterberry Farm in Leverett, MA, is a small, family teaching farm. They have farm and fiber programs throughout the year. One of their most interesting programs is Sheep Week for kids during April vacation week. Each child is assigned a ewe and her lambs to care for during the week. The kids weigh, feed, and get to participate in all aspects of the care of their own sheep family. They even get to watch the video of their home-birth! There are also courses for adults. There are private fiber and soap making classes, as well as custom made workshops for scout groups or homeschool groups. They host camps on vacation weeks as well as Summer Camp. Learn more at www.winterberryfarm.org.
  • Berkshire Botanical Gardens in Stockbridge, MA offers programs for both children and adults. They run a Farm in the Garden Camp, which is a full-day summer camp for children ages 5 to 10. For adults, the choices are impressive. They offer courses on fruit production, growing with perennials, and building dry stone walls, among other things. You can learn more at berkshirebotanical.org.
  • Crimson and Clover Farm in Florence, MA hosts courses and summer camps through the Farm Education Collaborative. There are home-school programs, parent child gardening programs, an after school farm club and workshops for adults. There is more information available at www.thefarmeducationcollaborative.org.
  • Farm School in Athol, MA helps people connect with the land. Visiting schools can spend three days fully immersed in the work and life of the farm. Adults who want to learn about animal husbandry, vegetable production and homesteading skills can participate in the Practical Farm Training Program. There is even a one-room school house for middle school students. It offer a rigorous education in a joyful, beautiful setting. You can learn more about their programs at www.farmschool.org.
  • Farm and Garden Camp in Amherst, MA is a program through the Farm Education Collaborative based at Hampshire College that has an intentional focus on growing and harvesting the food we eat and fibers we use. It offers weekly summer day camp programs to young people from 4-14 years old during the months of July and August. Learn more about the program at www.farmandgardencamp.org.
  • Hartsbrook School in Hadley, MA offers a Waldorf inspired camp during vacation weeks and Farm Camp during the summer. Children ages 4-15 enjoy caring for a variety of farm animals, participating in agricultural crafts and preparing their harvests in the kitchen.You can learn about it at www.hartsbrook.org.
  • Open View Farm in Conway, MA was founded in 2005 with the goal of creating a welcoming environment in which people of all ages and backgrounds could connect with nature. They have events throughout the year, including sheep shearing, work projects, and social gatherings. Open View has created an especially welcoming farm for the families of people in the LGBQT families. They have a program called CampOUT which is for children from LGBQT families to get to experience farm life and companionship. Open View farm also offers fellowships for private and public school teachers who need a retreat to create curriculum that supports Peace and Justice or Sustainable and Responsible living. You can learn more about Open View Farm at www.openviewfarm.org.

The soil is warming up for you and your children. Go and make something grow.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Theresa Heary-Selah — Theresa is a teacher and a freelance writer, making her home in Greenfield, MA and Wright, NY with her family.  She teaches at S.H.I.N.E. (Students at Home in New England), a social and academic support program for middle school students in the Pioneer Valley, and writes about home-schooling and technology.  Theresa’s interests include home-schooling, gardening, cooking, hiking, and dancing.

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