Heard recently in the halls of The Earth School: “Dude, our farmers are in the house!”
“Everything is ‘our farmers,’” says Elizabeth Horton, director of public relations for Organic Valley, who helped organize the day’s events.
The farmers in question are Susan Hardy and Maureen Knapp, Organic Valley dairy farmers from upstate New York who have formed an ongoing relationship with The Earth School, an eco-minded public school on East 6th Street. Two weeks ago, the farmers paid the schoolkids a visit. They helped 4th and 5th graders make ice cream, taught them about healthy soil (and how it relates to milk) and collected a box of recently hatched chicks ready to start their life on the farm.
“When we started visiting, the schools kept saying ‘Can you bring a cow?’” Susan says with a laugh. “No, we can’t bring a cow! The chicks were our compromise.” Soon she found herself walking the city streets with a giant bag of corn for the chicks that would also be used for a lesson in seed saving and grain grinding.
Susan and Maureen agree that their efforts to bring a slice of farm life to the city are paying off. The kids seem to remember every detail of the farmer visits, from Maureen’s collection of cow earrings to the more important things. Sitting on plastic milk crates, the students lean in as Susan holds up flash cards and asks questions.
“Do you know what organic means?”
A hand shoots up: “No chemicals!”
When time comes to take turns cranking the old-fashioned ice cream maker, most of the kids walk away rubbing their arms. It turns out, making food is hard work, even if you aren’t on a farm.