School Programs

School Programs (grades K-12)

Natick Community Organic Farm offers school programs for Pre-K to 12th grade. Programs range from tours, to “Living Laboratory” science based programs, to 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

Visiting the Farm is about getting as close as possible to the plants, the animals, and the way to natural world works. Our Farm Tours are a great way for your class or group to get even closer while getting a broad view of everything that happens here on the Farm. Typically pitched to the younger crowd but easily scalable to college and beyond, these tours are the best way to experience everything the Farm has to offer.

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.
  • $8/person
  • 2 teachers/classroom free
  • Tour minimum = 6 people

 

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: 50 minutes
  • Tours—60 mins.
  • $130 per class / up to 30 students per class
  • Travel: $1.00/mile, round trip (assessed 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 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.
  • $8/person
  • Extend the fun! Combine two programs back to back for $13/person
  • 2 teachers/classroom free
  • Program minimum = 15 people
  • 2—4 classrooms can participate in 1 time slot (dependent on subject and class size)

 

We offer the following programs:

HONEY BEE POLLINATORS

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.”

Honey Bee Pollinator MA Curriculum Framework Standards

CLOSE TO THE GROUND: EATING FOR YOUR HEALTH

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

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. Then they will 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 

FOREST BIOMES

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.

Curriculum Connections: coming soon…

ROCKS TO SOIL: HOW GEOLOGY BUILDS A FARM

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. We’ll explore questions like “what is a rock?” and “what is soil?” 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

Discover all the different roles creepy crawlies play on the farm! 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

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. We’ll 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. We’ll 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

EGG TO CHICKEN: BIRD CHARACTERISTICS

This program is offered at the Farm 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

April 30-May 4, 2018. 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. Go inside our education center to 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 

HONEY BEES: IN CLASS PROGRAM

What’s the buzz about bees? Asides from making honey, bees are responsible for pollinating close to 30% of all food consumed in this country. This interactive in-class program explores the basic anatomy, life cycle, and social structure of honey bees. Students will learn about fantastic bee adaptations, are introduced to the concept of metamorphosis, and the activities that take place within the hive. Students will discuss how and why bees are kept. Lastly, for older grades, we will discuss challenges that face the species and things people can do to help preserve these wonderful pollinators.

Curriculum Connections: coming soon…

MAPLE SUGARING

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 

 

Interested in a School Program?

WORK STUDY

The Farm is committed to having Middle and High School age students participate in farm work as active members of this community. This is a space in which students can engage in meaningful work, collaborate with their peers in a spirit of cooperation, and, through hands-on experiences, learn about the ecological cycles inherent in producing food for our community. Students learn to appreciate the amount of time, energy, and thought that goes into producing food that is healthy for our bodies, as well as for the environment. During Middle and High School Work /Study days, students build upon previous knowledge, are asked to use critical thinking skills, learn to work together, all the while enjoying the opportunity to spend the day out of doors and getting their hands in the earth!

Students visit the Farm for a 3-5 hour program combining work and study units with an emphasis on a specific subject concentration. There are between 4 and 6 work/study units in a day, with small groups of students rotating through each unit throughout the day. Students must be accompanied by school faculty who will work along side them. In order to have the program be collaborative with schools, we require that school faculty plan at least one lesson that they would teach as part of student rotations on the Farm.

Depending on your desired focus, choose from three concentration areas:

  • Agricultural Science & Farm Stewardship
  • Ecological Cycles & Sustainability
  • Healthy Eating: Farm to Fork

The Farm can accommodate up to 90 students per work/ study day. Working group size cannot exceed 15 students. We encourage faculty to consider whole grade level participation as a unifying experience, coming over several days, if needed to accommodate all students.

For a Work/Study days 2.5 hours in duration, our fee is $6 per student. For programs 3-5 hours, it is $9 per student. We are committed to keeping fees as affordable as possible so cost will not be a determining factor in whether a school can participate in these programs; please contact us to discuss different possibilities! Email [email protected].

Interested in a Work Study Program?

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