After looking over our itinerary I noticed that we were going to visit a farm. That's great, I like farms. But Sprout Creek Farm is no common farm. Yes, they have cows, goats and chickens. Sure, they make cheese from milk and gather the multicolored eggs. Yes, they have gardens that grow seasonal vegetables and trees that grow fruits. But where they differ from other farms is that they allow you to participate in the experience. Sprout Creek Farm is not only a working farm but also an educational center that offers programs for children and adults. Through these programs children learn all about life on the farm, by living it firsthand. They will be able to feed and milk the cows and goats. Gather eggs from the hens. Harvest vegetables from the garden. All the while learning cooperation, recycling and ecology in the guise of good, clean fun. Well, sometimes not so clean.
The programs are age appropriate and run in the summer and also throughout the school year. Sprout Creek Farm has a relationship with many schools all over the country. Margo met us at the market where they sell cheese and other products. Through a window in the door between the barn and the market we could see the cows, along with a mom and a new calf, born that morning.
The tour began with us walking around the farm and some of the gardens. We walked over to the "cottage" which can be used by parents whose children are taking part in one of the longer programs. The cottage can also be rented by the week for those looking for an unusual getaway. The inside is clean and simple but comfortable.
As we walked around the farm, Margo pointed out a structure made out of branches that were hand shaped, this was made by the teenagers during one of their stays. During this project they had to learn to measure, shape, and cooperate with each other to complete the project. The complete pergola is quite impressive, with vines planted around it to and benches for sitting and taking in the view on a clear, warm day.
As we passed the patio area we saw the orchard of pear trees (I love to see pears hanging from a tree, they look so cute!), but this orchard had a special significance: it was donated by a family of a young man who died before he could fulfill his dream of being an organic farmer.
At the far end of the farm was the hen house which houses different breeds of chickens. I noticed an Americana hen, the ones that colored eggs: different shades of blues and greens.
We also took a trip to the goat barn and the cow barn where were we saw that it was milking/feeding time.
In the garden area, participants will learn how to grow vegetables for the right time of year, how to start seeds and even how to cook and preserve the vegetables that grow on the farm. One program offers third graders where they grow vegetables and tend them. By the end of program they are in 4th grade and harvest the vegetable to make soup. Gardening is fickle. Sometimes you have lots of greens and sometimes all that survives is root vegetables. The kids make soup out of whatever is available, another life lesson.
Back at the market we could view them making cheese and got a rundown on the types available culminating in a cheese tasting.
To receive more information about the programs at Sprout Creek Farm you can call or go to their website.