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Agriculture in the Classroom brings local schools to Ramblin' Vewe

October 05, 2011
Agriculture in the Classroom came to Ramblin' Vewe Farm Tuesday, Sept. 27 for the second annual School to Farm program, which offered students a unique look at where they get their food, fibers and fuel.

Fourth grade students from five Lakes Region schools gathered at Ramblin' Vewe Farm for lessons at 13 different stations around the farm.

Students from Alton, Barnsted, Gilmanton, and Laconia students from Pleasant Street and Woodland Heights spent 15 minutes at each station for a lesson on a different aspect of farming in New Hampshire.

According to Ruth Smith, the program's Director, the advantages of this program include the number of different aspects of farming to which students are taught.

"We bring the farms to one place," said Smith, explaining the benefits of the program. "They don't have to go to six different farms. We offer a sampling of different farms."

Smith said to prepare students and teachers for the field trip, they offer teacher workshops and send information ahead of time.

"It's not just something new. Teachers can integrate it with their curriculum," said Smith.

Students went through two loops of stations, one in the barn and one in the field.

The barn loop featured a lesson in sheep and wool, including a live sheering demonstration by Jeff Keyser of Ramblin' Vewe, and also a lesson in how plants grow by the Belknap Cooperative Extension, a forestry lesson by private forest consultant John Martin, and hydroponic farming by Sticks and Stones farm.

Representing the Pemi-Baker Bee Keepers were Gerard and Mary Ellen Godville, and David Boynton gave an introduction to bee-keeping by explaining its importance and the basic tools used in extracting and processing the honey and wax used in the many products made by bees.

They found challenge in cramming in the information, plus fielding questions in the 15 minute time frame. They recalled a session at the Moultonborough Loon Preservation Center that had no time-limit; they went on for more than two hours.

Also present were Kathy Salinitro of Ox-K Farm, along with two of her oxen, Chip and Jake, offering a lesson on ruminant animals and the history and uses of oxen in farming and transportation of early Western settlers.

During the lunch break, students had a chance to take turns driving the team of oxen in a yoke.

The second loop featured wool and fiber processing demonstrations by Joyce Keyser and a team of fiber and weaving enthusiasts to show how wool goes from a sheep to a sweater.

Matty Huckins and her dairy cow, Maxine, of Huckins Farm gave a lesson of dairy processing. Huckins explain that Maxine was due to birth a heifer calf in the next two weeks.

Students also visited stations by Suroweic Farm, with a lesson on pumpkins and gourds, Belknap County Conservation with a lesson on soils, Prescott Farm representatives teaching a lesson on maple syrup processing, NH Farm to School teaching the importance of proper nutrition, and representatives of Maggie Mae Farms with a lesson on poultry.

According to Smith, the event doubled in size this year, and they are fairly close to maximum capacity; this year at 275 students. She hopes to be back next year, and possibly have enough students to make Agriculture in the Classroom a two-day event, as is the case with most other sessions she coordinates through the state.

Smith hopes to include other schools in the area, such as fourth-grade classes from Gilford Elementary and Elm Street School in Laconia. She offered the program to all schools in Belknap County, and hopes the event can grow in years to come.

For more information on Agriculture in the Classroom, visit their Web site at www.nhagintheclass.org or call 224-1934.

Salmon Press
Martin Lord Osman
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