October is a big month when it comes to things we can observe. From National Breast Cancer Awareness to National Cooperative Month, there are a slew of organizations and practices we can support. Among my favorites is National Farm to School Month. In fact, last week was the National Farm to School week in the U.S.!
I’ve been fortunate enough to provide some winter squash from my farm to some local schools in the La Crosse, WI area. As part of this, I’ve been visiting the very classrooms that get to try my squash in their school lunches. In each class we talk about my farm, what my family has raised over the years (dairy, beef, produce), and what it takes to be an organic farmer. The largest visit I did was particularly fun, with 70 students crammed into one classroom. Let me tell ya – it was crazy, but the best visit yet.
Why was it so crazy, you ask?
Well, the kids seemed pretty engaged in the squash examples I brought in and took a few of the seeds I passed around as souvenirs, asking if they were “like pumpkin seeds? Can we eat them!?” We kept it interactive and they asked tons of great questions, but the REAL fun began when we got to milk the “cow.”
This is the cow….
A four legged, black rubber udder. Let’s face it, it’s a little difficult getting a real live cow into classrooms these days.
I have to say, I had great student participation.
Some students even said that they wanted to move to a farm and become farmers after my visit – now that was inspiring. I guess it’s not every day they see a farmer, much less one that isn’t wearing overalls.
On a more serious note, I am so happy to have had the opportunity to share my story with the young minds of our future. Teaching kids about farming, organic farming, and understanding where their food comes from is so important to ensuring the sustainability of our food systems as we see more and more families pushed out of farming to urban sprawl, big business, and quite frankly, a lack of interest in what is often an economically unviable trade. I am so fortunate to be able to explore my dream of farming thanks to the support of a cooperative that cares and to share that story with others.