May has been a month of school field trips for us. On May 6 we were visited by third graders from Lee Expressive Arts School. The field trip was the culmination of a year-long program called Harvest of the Month, first established at Lee by Slow Food Katy Trail in September 2008. Two years later, enthusiastic Lee School parents began funding, planning and implementing the monthly Harvest of the Month programs and annual field trip to Goatsbeard Farm. This has enabled Slow Food Katy Trail to introduce its Harvest of the Month program at other local elementary schools.
This year, three stations were set up to accommodate the 60 visitors. At one, students helped feed grain to goats in the milking parlor, and then toured the dairy facility. They were fascinated by the fact that goats are ruminants and have four stomachs. They learned that some cheese is eaten within two days of being made, while some must be aged for many months before it is ready.
At another station, students learned about rotational grazing and helped Jenn and Ken move fencing in the pastures so the goats could enjoy fresh grass that day. They also fed grain and hay to younger goats and grain to the pigs. The concept of farm chores began to sink in!
The third station was set up by Lee School parents in the dairy kitchen. Students prepared their own lunch, composing beautiful platters of apple slices, carrot sticks, sliced salami, boiled eggs and celery with peanut butter. And of course there were platters of baguette slices with goat cheese! The children ate together at long tables set up outside.
Slow Food Katy Trail (slowfoodkatytrail.blogspot.com is the local mid-Missouri chapter of Slow Food USA. The organization has deep connections to Goatsbeard Farm, with its founding meeting held at the farm in 2003. Many other Slow Food events have taken place at Goatsbeard in addition to the annual Lee School field trip. It is a collaborative relationship in which both our farm and Slow Food share goals: taking pleasure in good food, ensuring that its producers are treated fairly, and striving toward a sustainable food production system for the planet!