School Programs

School Programs (grades K-12)

Natick Community Organic Farm offers school programs for Pre-K to 12th grade. Programs range from field trips, tours, “Living Laboratory” science based programs, and work-study programs. Please explore the offerings by grade level.

MAPLE SUGARING TOUR

Offered from mid February to mid March depending on the season. Learn what weather conditions make sap run in maple sugar trees so we can collect it to make syrup. Taste sap right out of a tree and learn to identify which trees we tap here our farm! Students will be introduced to historical practices of sugaring used by Native American tribes and early European settlers, as well as the contemporary practices we use to make delicious sap right here on our farm. End your visit with a stop in our sugar shack and, if we are boiling, you will experience a sweet smelling laboratory where you can explore evaporation, condensation, temperature, and density. Syrup is for sale after your program, ask for our pricing.

Maple Sugaring | MA Curriculum Framework Standards 

GUIDED FARM TOUR

Explore the Farm’s changing seasons by joining us for a guided tour of a real, working farm. Touch a freshly laid egg and pet a chicken and rabbit; meet our goats, sheep, cows, pigs, and turkeys; greet baby animals; explore our herbs, veggies, and flowers in fields or greenhouses; watch our honeybees in their observation hive; learn about our 1815 barn.

Tours are all-ages, and topics may include animal life cycles and fun facts, organic ecology, composting, sustainability, and more. 

Guided Farm Tour | MA Curriculum Framework Standards 

TOUR DETAILS

Tours are customized to the ages and abilities of participants—there’s a lot to see and explore on the Farm!

  • M-F
  • 8:30-4:30
  • Tours—60 mins.
  • $9/person
  • 2 teachers/classroom free
  • Minimum tour fee $54 (for up to 6 people; additional people pay +$9)
  • Schools are welcome to use our picnic tables and take a self guided tour of our nature trail or animals before or after farm programming.

 

TRAVELING FARM AT YOUR SCHOOL (Pre-K/K)

What is the story of our Farm? Find out in our traveling farm program, where we show ‘n’ tell our in-season goods…scratchy hay, fluffy yarn, fresh eggs, veggies, flowers, and sweet maple syrup and honey. We’ll ask: how do farmers grow and raise our plants and animals? What are farms for? What are your favorite veggies? A moooovin’ reading of Driving My Tractor encourages kid participation in the sounds of farm life. We’ll finish up with a visit from a live farm ambassador—a chicken or rabbit!

“The interaction the children got to have with the bunnies was so hands-on! The children really loved being able to feed the bunnies the grass as well as just watch them moving around the circle freely. The farm teacher was super friendly and engaging for the children.”

—Whitney Healey, Bright Horizons Education Coordinator

TRAVELING FARM DETAILS
  • Pre-K/K
  • Program length: 45 minutes
  • 1 teacher, up to 20 children, $150
  • 2 teachers, up to 30 children, $275
  • Travel is assessed at $1/mile, using Google Maps
Interested in a School Program?
A LIVING LABORATORY TO ENHANCE CLASSROOM LEARNING

Using the farm as an exciting laboratory, we bring classroom subjects to life in our field trips by inviting school children to observe and participate in activities integral to producing healthy food. All of our school programs are rooted in our natural surroundings to encourage an understanding of the earth’s ecological cycles and how we, as organic farmers, work within them. Programs are aligned with the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and the content can be adapted to meet the needs of any elementary grade level. Our ultimate intention is to offer students hands-on experiences to cultivate their appreciation for and understanding of the larger ecological community.

Dates, Times and Fees:

  • M-F
  • 8:30-4:30
  • Programs—75 mins.
  • $9/person
  • Extend the fun! Combine two programs back to back for $15/person
  • 2 teachers/classroom free
  • Program minimum = 15 people
  • 2—4 classrooms can participate in 1 time slot (dependent on subject and class size)
  • Schools are welcome to use our picnic tables and take a self guided tour of our nature trail or animals before or after farm programming.

 

We offer the following programs:

POLLINATOR POWER- GRADES 3-5

Come into the heart of prime honey bee habitat—our Farm. We’ll learn what makes the Farm a perfect sanctuary for our most productive pollinators by exploring vegetable fields, pastures, and weedy borders. We’ll visit our own bee hives and discuss hive structure and communication (get ready to do the waggle dance!) which enables bees to do the work of pollination and honey making. Students discover the rudiments of pollination with a close up visit to our flower field, a large 3-D flower model, and flower “dissections.”

Pollinator Power MA Curriculum Framework Standards

CLOSE TO THE GROUND: EATING FOR YOUR HEALTH- GRADES K-5

Students will rotate through several stations to learn about how nutrient rich food is grown on an organic farm. This is a seasonally dependent program and the types of activities are subject to change. Students will investigate our compost pile, harvest ripe vegetables, meet our farm animals, and discuss healthy whole foods. Each station will focus on the connection between the health of the individual and the health of the environment.

Close to the Ground | MA Curriculum Framework Standards

SOIL & PLANTS: CHARACTERISTICS OF A LIVING SYSTEM- GRADES K-5

In this program, students will learn about how healthy soil is created through a hands-on investigation of our compost pile. They will be introduced to the various fungi, bacteria, and insects that act as decomposers and discover how these helpful organisms break down organic material. Field trips will then explore parts of our deciduous forest to learn about the types of plants that grow in this climate. Lastly, students will tour the types of plants growing on our farm and learn more about the delicate balance between soil and plants.

Soil and Plant MA Curriculum Framework Standards 

 

ROCKS TO SOIL: HOW GEOLOGY BUILDS A FARM- GRADES 2-5

Students will explore the Farm to learn how it’s uniquely suited to its river valley location, and how weathering and erosion play a part in creating its nutrient rich fields. Field trips will explore questions like “what is a rock?” and “what is soil?” Field trip activities include a close up look at the life-giving minerals that are in our soil and food as well as a hands-on comparison of several soil samples from the Farm. Students will gain a richer understanding of how geology “built” our Farm and contributes to the health of plants, animals, and…us.

Rocks to Soil MA Curriculum Framework Standards 

BUGS ON THE FARM: SO YOU THOUGHT YOU COULD LIVE WITHOUT THEM- GRADES K-3

Discover all the different roles creepy crawlies play on the farm! Field trips will search for munching decomposers, pick pesky pests off if plants, and help the pollinators make our fruit grow! Find out which bugs are helpful to farmers and which are harmful. Through a series of hands on investigations students will explore the farm’s fields, composting system and greenhouse to see the smallest parts of a working farm.

 

Bugs on the Farm MA Curriculum Framework Standards 

PLANT AND ANIMAL INTERDEPENDENCE- GRADES K-5

Gr. K-2

Life exists because of plant and animal interdependence! Students learn how forest and farm food webs help our New England creatures and plants survive, grow, and reproduce. Field trips will explore what’s growing in our fields, dig for decomposers, and visit our animals—spotlighting chickens and eggs with their surprising trait variations. Students will gain insight into how plants and animals have adapted together to meet their needs through the core interdependencies of food, shelter, reproduction, and air.

Gr. 3-5

Life exists because of plant and animal interdependence! Students learn how food webs transfer the sun’s energy to our New England creatures and plants to help them survive, grow, and reproduce. Field trips will explore what’s growing in our fields, dig for decomposers, and visit our animals—with a special emphasis on sheep and chickens. Students will gain insight into how plants and animals have adapted together to meet their needs, and in turn how farmers and seasons shape our unique farm habitat.

Plant & Animal Interdependence MA Curriculum Framework Standards

FOREST BIOMES- GRADES K-5

Students will explore the woodlands on the farm to learn more about our Northeast deciduous forest biome. They will learn which features constitute the basement, floor, shrub layer, and all the way up to the canopy of the forest and how the living organisms in each layer interact to create a complex ecosystem. While walking through the forest, students will learn how to “read” a landscape to discern how it has changed over time. Lastly, they will learn how organic farmers use the information observed in local forests to produce food that is healthy for our bodies and good for our environment.

EGG TO CHICKEN: BIRD CHARACTERISTICS- GRADES K-2

This program is offered at the Farm for field trips or in classrooms.

Meet the chicks, hens and roosters on the farm and discover where they originated from in the wild! Get up close and personal with the chickens to learn about their amazing adaptations and what makes them different from other animals on the farm. Learn how a chicken’s maturation process, starting from inside the egg and the important role they play on our farm once they hatch!

Egg to Chicken MA Curriculum Framework Standards

SHEEP SHEARING & THEIR WOOL: A HISTORY OF ANIMALS AND FIBER (SEASONAL)

Held generally in early May. Why do we shear sheep in the spring? How do sheep eat with no front teeth? Learn about the adaptations sheep have developed and watch them have their yearly hair cut. Field trips will learn what makes wool so wonderful for making yarn and fabric, then try your own hand at carding, spinning and weaving the wool from our sheep.

Sheep and Wool MA Curriculum Framework Standards 

MAPLE SUGARING (SEASONAL)

Held generally from mid-February to mid-March. Learn what weather conditions make sap run in maple sugar trees so we can collect it to make syrup. Field trips could taste sap right out of a tree and learn to identify which trees we tap here our farm! Students will be introduced to historical practices of sugaring used by Native American tribes and early European settlers, as well as the contemporary practices we use to make delicious sap right here on our farm. End your visit with a stop in our sugar shack and, if we are boiling, you will experience a sweet-smelling laboratory where you can explore evaporation, condensation, temperature, and density. Syrup is for sale after your program, ask for our pricing.

Maple Sugaring MA Curriculum Framework Standards 

 

Interested in a School Program?

School Group Volunteering

The farm invites middle and high school students and staff to participate as volunteers on a real, working farm. During their field trip, volunteers get a taste of farm life and experience the seasonal cycles of nature as they participate in the day’s farm chores.

School volunteers engage in the mission of our organic, educational farm. They experience the ecological cycle of farming through meaningful, hands-on, cooperative work. While getting dirty,
students connect classroom learning to agricultural science in action. At the end of the day, students leave the farm with an understanding of the tremendous labor and talent that goes into plant and livestock production.

Volunteer groups support farm production, helping us to:
• produce healthy food for the community
• support a healthy habitat for our crops, animals, people, and the native creatures and plants that co-exist on the farm
• maintain free, open access to the farm seven days a week for all people to enjoy

Nuts and Bolts

• September-October, late April-early June
• Monday-Friday
• Up to 3 hours, customized to your school’s schedule
• $10/student (teachers/chaperones free)
• Program minimum 15 students / program maximum 40 students
• Schools are welcome to eat lunch and take a self-guided tour of our nature trail and animals after volunteering

What Volunteering Looks Like

Within a 3-hour schedule, large groups are assigned to smaller chore groups of 7-10 students that rotate among 3-4 farm chore stations, each led by a farm educator. We can host approximately 40 students in a volunteering day. To accommodate larger groups, schools may schedule several volunteering days. All farm chores, no matter how small, represent meaningful farm work. Because chores are both seasonal and specific to the day, the following list is only a small sample of typical chores:
• mucking sheep, goat, turkey, and chicken areas
• mulching vegetable fields
• harvesting cherry tomatoes
• pulling bindweed to feed to the goats
• weeding flower fields
• clipping chicken wings
• filling compost bags
• feeding the pigs

Education

Farm educators are trained to work with youth in farm production work. They are knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and safety conscious. Because we are an educational farm, lessons are integrated
informally into farm chore stations. Discussion areas might include healthy eating, sustainability, ecological cycles, and agricultural science. Tell us what your students are learning, and we’ll do our best to integrate it into our farm chore stations. 

For more information, contact [email protected].

Teachers’ Feedback About Our School Programs:

“Thank you so much for having us! The kindergartners had so much fun and are still talking about how much they enjoyed the trip. Hope the chickens are doing well. Looking forward to working with you again next year!”—Nitzan, Kindergarten Teacher

“We thought the sheep shearing program was fantastic again this year. We feel so fortunate to have the farm next door to our school, and are grateful that you welcome our visits. The kids were very enthusiastic about their experience at the farm. They wrote about what they learned and made great illustrations as well. A few parents mentioned how eager their children were to share what they learned when the sheep was being sheared and what they did in the workshop. Thank you for being so generous with your time.–Margaret Lydon, Memorial School Teacher

“I wanted to thank you for the awesome experience that our sixth graders had over the last week at the farm. We were very impressed with the staff, the farm and all of the new learning that took place. The students could not stop talking about the hands-on stations that demonstrated the process of decomposition. It fit perfectly with our unit we are studying in class. Thank you again for having us and we look forward to another great experience next year!”—Brooke Edmunds, 6th Grade Math Teacher, Christa McAuliffe Charter Public School, Framingham, MA

Questions? Email [email protected]