Learning through doing at NCOF

At NCOF, we believe in hands-on learning. Farm educator Mitzie Gibson had a creative project idea for her homeschool group: making soap! Using resources directly from the farm, Mitzie’s group made lavender soap that will be available at the farm stand for only $5.00! One batch will be put out on 11/18, and another batch will be at the farm stand on 11/23.

To make the soap, the group used rendered lard (from NCOF pigs) as the base, and lavender for the scent, inspired by the flowers grown here on the Farm. This project was not only a lesson in the practical skills of making soap from scratch, but also a lesson in resourcefulness by using ingredients directly from the Farm. The homeschool group was able to gain experience making chemical reactions with proportioning the lard, lye, and water, and stirring those ingredients until it was the necessary consistency.

Now that the soap has been molded and cut, it needs to cure, letting the water evaporate until the soap hardens and is ready to be used.

Mitzie has plenty of experience creating fun activities for her classes. Her favorite project she worked on with one of her groups has been making upcycled insect hotels! She explains, “It allowed us to explore and interact with several areas of the farm, and the kids can check on the insects making the hotels their home over the winter.” The insect hotels were made by reusing trash, and taught the class important lessons on foraging, crafting, and the role of insects in a farm ecosystem.

Learning outdoors and using local and natural materials is a wonderful way for young people to gain a connection to nature from a young age. NCOF will always value the method of hands-on learning which not only promotes this connection, but also teaches life skills such as problem solving, teamwork, and curiosity.