Friday, January 2013
This past Fall, the High School students took field trips for their Agriculture morning lesson block that brought them into diverse neighborhoods in Chicago to survey a number of sustainable living and urban farming initiatives.
Students got a first hand look at communities creating living and work situations that are self sufficient and environmentally-minded, that are revitalizing "waste spaces" and converting them into green spaces. These communities are invested in the value of maximizing our connection to land, produce and even livestock within the urban environment. Here are some of the places the CWS high school students explored:
"The Plant is a a new kind of organization in a very old building. We’re working to show what truly sustainable food production and economic development looks like by farming inside an old meatpacking facility, incubating small craft food businesses, brewing beer and kombucha, and doing it all using only renewable energy that we make onsite. By connecting outputs of one business to the inputs of another, we are harnessing value from materials that most people would throw away....It’s part vertical farm, part food-business incubator, part research and education space – and it will be entirely off the grid." 9th grader, Silvia Sukenic was impressed by the fact that the Plant "will run entirely on bio gas for its power source." Her classmate, Maddie Byrne said, "The Plant is cool because its goal is to be totally self-sustainable..."
GRIT Magazine recently awarded the Freak Farm the honor of being its "Homesteader of the Year" and featuring a profile of the farm in its coverage. Other groups have taken notice of this active backyard micro-farm that has diverse features including chickens, guinea hens, vermicomposting (worms), a harvesting garden and other agricultural elements. CBS 2 News also gave Freak Farm some coverage and highlighted the farm's founder, Tristan Beache.
After visiting the Angelic Organics Farm, 9th grader Taylor Jones said he'd never been on a farm before and that "they fed the cows beets; they don’t have milking cows, but they do milk their goats.” “Zo” Schrepferman commented that “One of the most memorable things was eating a hot pepper called a 'Paper Lantern' that looks like a regular pepper but its red and super hot.” The students also met with urban farmers and learned about plans for development of new urban farmland in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago. Some of these proposed "urban ag" farms are supported by and developed through CRAFT, the Angelic Organics Education Center's Farmer Training Program.
“All their food is biodynamic and they don’t use chemical pesticides, instead the farmers do things to trick the bugs, like rotating the crops.”
- 9th grader, Zo Schrepferman
Grace White, a 9th grader, commented that, “Visiting Angelic Organics was an experience similar to working on my uncle's farm. It was interesting; I’d love to have an internship experience there.” Science teacher & 9th grade advisor, Brian Gleichauf, put the experience into a historical and pedagogical perspective explaining, “We have been doing the in-town Agriculture trip since before we even had the morning lesson block to go with it! I really feel like what we’ve crafted in this experiential block makes for a powerful experience for the 9th graders. It allows them to connect with their city and their food in a new way, and it brings to consciousness aspects of their living that most have seldom thought about before. I also love that this block ‘bookends’ with the Service Learning Trip at the end of the school year, in which they get two weeks of total immersion in agricultural life.”