Sprout Creek Farm is an independent 501c3 whose mission is to educate children using agriculture and the environment as base for its programs. Starting a farm using a small area of the campus of a school in 1982, two teachers began a very humble but ambitious program simply called “The Farm”. The impetus for doing so was a growing concern showing gaps in learning as demonstrated among high school aged youth, the age group we were teaching at that time. Also, a growing concern about the social interactive dimension of ‘the table’, and fast food already dominating the youth culture made us think about what it would be like to teach from the ground up. We were seeing some of the same issues that plague the less advantaged occurring among the advantaged -- little family time, less nutritional input, the loss of discourse, and the disconnection from the earth to the table with neither being understood as a value. Thus began a 35 year work of love and learning for a couple of nuns.
SCF has always been a bootstrap entity, with a drive to be operationally sustainable which is difficult at best in the world of farming, and especially dairy farming which is our specialty. We chose it because it’s hard, requires careful observation and often swift action, daily work and care, and the development of a strong work ethic. Farming is real. We have a cow dairy and a goat dairy as well. Children who come to us in residential programs (offered year round) including the more intensely attended summer camps, have an experience of both small and large ruminants that are productive and friendly. By introducing animals requiring 2 different kinds of management has proven to enrich the experience. We have turned out many a veterinarian, environmentalist, teacher, farmer, but most importantly, conscientious and discerning consumers of food and resources.
When children and teens are at SCF during summer and the gardens are productive as well, the experience is even more profound. Harvesting and learning to prepare and cook everything from the bounty of the land, the animals, and the plants is part of the everyday experience and for a short time becomes a lifestyle. Under the supervision of our trained farmer/educators and certified chefs the children milk the herds, clean barns, feed babies, collect eggs, harvest veggies, cook meals, bake bread, churn butter, dip in the cool waters of the creek, sing and tell stories around a campfire, go for hikes on 200 acres of farmland and forest, and just as important, play.
We can easily see that the farm and the environment are catalysts for learning and development. Farms are places where many decisions need to be made daily, always juxtaposing agricultural practices with the health of the land. Creativity, resourcefulness, ingenuity, and hard work are necessary ingredients for success. We invite program participants into the life of the farmer, with everything on the table. This is our School of Real serving more than 2 thousand children and adults each year.
We need help now to bring our operations to a new level, which translates into a number of needs to be addressed from personnel to equipment to capital improvements. This is a turning point for SCF. We must grow in order to sustain. In pursuit of several donors for a total of $250,000, we are dead serious that this is our turning point. A now or never moment. We hope in your confidence that your funds will be administered wisely and well. We are not neophytes to the art and science of farming or the education of children!
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