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A Place to Grow

A Place to Grow
Posted on 08/01/2018
This aerial view shows the farm school operated by students at Compass Montessori in Golden.It was harvest time on the campus of Compass Montessori in Golden, a Jeffco charter school that prides itself on being a place to grow. A group of Compass Montessori students was making their way through the fields of a working farm that’s located right behind their school. The going is hard, muddy, and on this particular morning, chilly.

“The dirt gets cold on your hands,” said student Brock Benoit.

“We harvest things like we have carrots, we have pumpkins, we have potatoes, we have tomatoes, so we have a lot of things,” explained student Rebecca Otto.

“I like being out on the farm. It’s just fun,” said another student, Keira Hays.
“Me too. It’s fun,” added student Ally Bucknam.

They balance their farm chores with a full class schedule. When they’re not growing, harvesting, or washing produce, the students take care of the farm’s small herd of goats and flock of chickens. The work fits within the school’s philosophy of connecting students with the earth, giving them a good understanding of where the resources on which they rely.

“Maria Montessori was awesome because she recognized that the adolescent does best and excels most when they have an equal opportunity to work with their head and their hands,” explained Farm School Director Candace Cheung.

The way the school sees it, the farm is one of the best teachers these students could have. There are typically 150 of them, in grades seven through nine, and all take part in a three-year cycle in which they rotate from planting, growing, and harvesting, to preparing and serving that food in the school’s kitchen, to selling the produce at their own farmer’s stand and at a big yearly harvest festival.

“It’s really fun because you get to see people not only just taking baskets home but also just eating it while they’re up here and down in the commons,” said Hays.

“It makes me happy to see all the happy smiling faces of all the little kids when they go through and pick out the pumpkin for Halloween,” added Bucknam.

The students are learning far more than farming basics.

“It isn’t about getting an agricultural education, it’s really about being part of a community with an inter-disciplinary and inter-dependent relationship; where you can rely on one another, contribute to the community, and get the academics and work of the head and the hands,” explained Cheung.

“I think it might make us kind of better people, more willing to do things and try new things,” said student Saoirse Palmer.

“It’s really cool, and I just feel great harvesting and helping out with the community and local system and the school,” said Benoit.

“That’s mostly what this school’s about,” added Palmer.

See the JPS-TV version of this story here or below.

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