Week of November 27, 2017
Well, this has been an interesting week. Tuesday morning we discovered we were a go for our very own farm right outside Richmond! Hallelujah! There’s lots more to say about that. Look for something in our “Blog Articles and Updates” section in the next few weeks – probably during our Christmas break!
Meanwhile, even with a slower week, we had some great learning experiences! Tuesday, the students had an unexpected day off as founders scrambled to get things moving with the new farm. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, we spent on all day work days or field trips. Wednesday, the students came to the farm and helped with fencing and goat herd health management. We divided and conquered! Goats are caught in a holding pen and then run through a chute one at a time where they get checked for body score, parasite anemia, injuries and hoof growth. They were treated as needed. For this round, we felt like they needed a bit of detox and had prepared a formula that each goat was given orally. The students did an amazing job with the animals. Other students learned to use tools and physics to pull posts from the ground and remove boards from a damaged section of fencing. They employed post hole diggers and learned to set, level and tamp in new posts. All in all, it was a great day!
Thursday, some of the students accompanied founders Chris and Resi Connell to the new farm for exploring while the home inspection was performed. We all walked the property boundaries, considering the new fence line, and did lots of exploring and planning. The barn is large and open and will need hay storage incorporated, stalls built and wiring done for lighting. The garage and workshop are amazing! Students are looking forward the mechanic and carpentry classes we will hold in that great space. After spending quite a bit of time on the property, we headed over to the County offices to get some paperwork and then enjoyed a picnic lunch at the Lawrence Lewis, Jr. Park on the James River. After lunch, we drove over to New Kent, the closest “shopping” area to the farm and visited the USDA office to get some questions answered about the farm.
Our lead teacher, Sandy, and her daughter Selina, had a special field trip planned for us Friday at the Fox Wire Farm Alpacas in Toano, VA near Williamsburg. We met at their huge farm store & boutique where we explored the many lush products that can be made from Alpaca fiber. Farm owner, John Ballentine, gave us some time to browse and then loaded us up on a bus for a short ride to the farm. We started the farm tour at the waterfront and learned about their methods and plans for stewardship and Chesapeake Bay protection. The next stop was the fodder house, where they grow roughly 200 lbs of feed by sprouting barley seeds. From there, we got really busy visiting the chicks in the reinforced, racoon proof (finally) shed, then the horses, mini donkeys and mini pony (cutest things ever) and stopping for a short break for a picnic lunch in the alpaca field with the curious critters checking us out! After lunch, we met some nigerian goats, jersey steers that will be trained to pull an ox cart, kunekune pigs and the outdoor chicken hen house Fort Knox! It was an information and animal packed day! This is the cleanest farm I have ever seen.
Next week we start packing!
Richmond Times Dispatch - "When a Farm is Your Classroom"
Goochland Gazette - "Local Farm School Making Move to Charles City"
Cheryl Tan Media Podcast 49: [Strategy] Re-engage Your Tribe with Resi Connell
Richmond Magazine – Private School Report 2017
NBC12 – Farm-based high school offers alternative for students
Goochland Gazette - "A new view of school"
Educators Challenged to Increase Interest in Agriculture