The Farm School’s home base is nestled atop an idyllic hillside overlooking Apricot Lane Farms- a modern one-room schoolhouse. The heart of what we believe in is etched in writing above its cathedral doors. Above one door live the wise words of early childhood educator extraordinaire, Magda Gerber:
“Childhood is not a race to see how quickly a child can read, write, and count. It is a small window of time to learn and develop at the pace that is right for each individual child. Earlier is not better.”
And above the other, progressive educator Francis Parker’s words read:
“True education frees the human spirit.”
We are farmers of the heart…
Our mission is to reclaim and honor the sacredness of childhood and our relationship with nature while fostering the development of the whole child to become who they are destined to be, with a deep understanding of the interconnectedness and impermanence of life.
This is a school with no walls where we cultivate lifelong learners who are impassioned to be empathetic, active agents of change in their communities and beyond through a holistic (head, hands, and heart) approach to education with a deep reverence for Mother Nature as our greatest teacher and most vital classroom.
The sights and sounds of sweet freedom ring throughout the fresh farm air with children laughing, climbing, learning, creating, imagining, questioning- all that encompasses and embodies what it means to be a kid- because we believe childhood is a right of every human being, a precious time in one’s life to be savored and preserved. Our fresh air freedom approach also gives children the space to deeply connect with nature, living the environmental educator, David Sobel’s wise words, “If we want children to flourish, to be truly empowered, we must first allow them to love the Earth before we ask them to save it.”
Our home on the farm and Multiage Model naturally invites a Constructivist approach to learning, with the children’s voices at the heart of what we do: their interests, passions, questions, and footsteps lead the way, alongside the seasonal rhythms of the farm and the natural world. Our farm’s learning community is its most precious resource steeped in rich diversity of gifts, experience, thought, wisdom, and knowledge whom come together with the children and Mother Nature to co-create a synergistic living, breathing, emergent curriculum that is dynamic, responsive, and multidimensional — a new story for education!
More of Who We Are, What We Do, and Why
Our farm’s learning community is returning to our roots to reclaim our future, to write a new story for education in which we all find ourselves students of life- children and adults alike- learning alongside one another to be empowered, authors of our future.
Everyone in our community is both a student and a teacher! We learn from specialists on the garden, fertility, orchard, livestock, poultry, and habitat teams, chefs, filmmakers, artists, the cows, the seeds we plant in our garden, the Barn Owls who frequent our playground at night, the mushrooms that pop up after a rain…the list is ever-growing. This unique trifecta- farm, nature, and education- converge together to co-create enriching experiences that add depth, breadth, and provide constant inspiration and renewal to the children’s learning journeys.
As a learning community, we are living into the wise words of the renowned Biodynamic expert and farmer Manfred Klett, “The farm is the university of the future.” Yes, and we are starting from the ground up- with young, free minds and spirits of mixed elementary ages from our local communities to form our homeschooling family with whom we explore, learn, and grow.
OUR LIVING CURRICULUM
After a decade of rebuilding and regenerating the land, the next level of the farm’s immunology work is with the humans who inhabit it and our culture of what it means to be human. Nelson Mandela’s wise words ground us in this deep, soulful work: “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children,” and Mahatma Gandhi’s equally sage words guide us: “If we are to reach real peace in this world…we shall have to begin with children.” And that is where we begin this work, with the children before us at The Farm School.
The Farm School aligns with the philosophy of the farm. Just like our founders’ approach to rebuilding and regenerating the land, our Teacher Guides are deeply present with our school microcosm in order to listen to its needs and respond. For it is in this deep listening where our living curriculum is born.
Our holistic approach starts with our intentional Multiage Model, that organically provides a rich playground for social and emotional learning. We believe that learning is meant to be a social experience that we do together, in community and over time. Our children spend multiple years with the same Teacher Guides and peers to create a safe, loving, family-like learning environment that values and nurtures the individual child and building healthy relationships. In our tight-knit community of learners, everyone becomes a teacher and mentor, providing a fertile ground for endless practice in developing a myriad of life skills such as empathy, compassion, and patience.
As our teacher and classroom, the farm offers a robust daily menu of artisanal provocations for the children to sample. Whatever case of the curiosities the children have becomes the starting point of our Project Based Learning. We define Project Based Learning as an interdisciplinary, hands on, real world approach to learning that is grounded in the theory of Constructivism; a concept that knowledge is built by the learner based on their foundation of existing knowledge through active engagement with the world. What does this look and feel like in action, you may wonder… here’s a little Farm School vignette of one of our recent projects on owls:
One morning while playing, a Farm Schooler discovered an owl pellet in the backyard of the school. This treasure of a find had all of the children insatiably curious as they ran to the site of the discovery only to find more! The children excitedly dissected the pellets and after close observation and investigation came to the collective conclusion that based on the evidence found- whitewash included- owls inhabited our playground at night! The children were flooded with questions and wonderings that our Teacher Guides documented to guide the learning experiences that followed. The children yearned to see the owls in action at night, and they collectively problem solved that the next best thing would be be capture them on camera. Thanks to our onsite film team, we borrowed a night vision camera to do just that. And so began an all immersive five month journey of learning all about the beautiful Barn Owls in our backyard, which led to a deep dive into the greater system and patterns that make up the farm ecosystem. The children became expert owl trackers searching the farm high and low for the evidence of owl presence and from there the children set-up the small night vision camera and caught footage of all sorts of nighttime farm life, including the Barn Owls to observe. While simultaneously out in the field gathering research, the children were busy researching back at our home base in books and online all about the Barn Owls and other species of owls that piqued their interest. As researchers, the children learned all about nonfiction text features and then created their own all about book based on their chosen owl species. The children also wanted to build an accurate life-size model of their chosen owl species, so they pulled out their rulers and created paper mache models with attention to the height and wingspan of their owl. As our culminating project, the children created a short documentary film of their learning journey that they premiered at our Farm School campout when the children finally got to see the owls at night on our owling adventure!
This way of learning fully engages the head, hands and heart of the learner, embodying the spirit of authentic, real world learning that fuels a lifelong love for learning and connection with the natural world. This way of learning is born out of play, just waiting to be discovered, like the owl pellet that started our journey. The learning outcomes here are deeply felt, living in the heart of the learner forevermore. Take this Farm Schooler for instance who after nearly a year of our owl project, recently shared with one of his Teacher Guides that he “talks” to the Great Horned Owl outside his bedroom window each night with a well versed call he learned through our project, and anytime he is out in nature, just guess what he actively seeks out! You’ve got it: evidence of owls.
OUR TEACHER GUIDES
MEET JENNY SEEDS
Jenny Seeds (left) has taught in classrooms dotted across the world from a wall-less bamboo hut in the jungles of Bali to a classroom just blocks from the infamous Abbey Road in London. Jenny was born a teacher and brings fourteen years of rich, diverse, international teaching experience to the farm. With a Bachelors of Arts in Elementary Education from Indiana University and a Masters in Literacy Learning and Literacy Difficulties from University College of London, all of Jenny’s experiences and learning have brought her to her dream of a job here on the farm where all of her passions converge in one place!
MEET MOLLY BAKER
Molly Baker (right) grew up in these hills and is wildly passionate about food, health, sustainability, and education. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sustainable Agriculture and Social Justice from The Evergreen State College. Molly has been a horticulture manager and teacher at several farms throughout the west, and she most recently joined us as a lead teacher from a Reggio Emilia inspired preschool in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The Farm School learns together Mondays-Thursdays from 8:30 am- 2:30 pm, for a total of 145 school days, which make up our 2022/2023 year together. As a homeschooling program, families are responsible for supplementing their child’s Farm School experience with thirty additional days of learning in order to meet state requirements. In the best interests of all, only families who can commit to the entirety of the 2022/2023 school year and partner in the homeschooling responsibilities shall inquire.
Tuition is $13,500 for the school year plus $1,000 to cover the costs of materials and resources to further enrich the program. We require a 50% down payment of tuition due at enrollment. Beyond the incredible 234-acre classroom and all that comes with it, tuition includes a daily healthy whole foods morning snack from the farm. At this time, there are no scholarships available.
We offer an after school program of unstructured play and exploration that runs Mondays-Thursdays from 2:30-4:00pm. The cost is $4,000 for the school year.
The Farm School
2022/2023 School Calendar
Tuesday, August 30 — Meet and Greet Wednesday, August 31 — 1/2 Day (8:30-11:30) with dismissal before lunch Thursday, September 1 — First Full Day (8:30-2:30) Monday, September 5 — No School, Labor Day/Farm Holiday Monday, September 12 — Apricot Afternoons Begin (2:30-4:00) Thursday, November 3 — No School, Teacher Conference Preparation Day Friday, November 4 & Friday, November 11 — Parent/Teacher Conferences November 18-27 — No School, Thanksgiving Break December 16-January 8 — No School, Winter Break January 16 — No School, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day/Farm Holiday: Thursday, February 16 — No School, Teacher Report Writing Day Monday, February 20 — No School, President’s Day/Farm Holiday Thursday, February 23 — Learning Story Reports Sent Home March 17-March 26 — No School, Spring Break Thursday, May 11 — No School, Teacher Conference Preparation Day Friday, May 12 and Friday, May 19 — Parent/Teacher Conferences Monday, May 29 — No School, Memorial Day/Farm Holiday Thursday, June 22 — No School, Teacher Report Writing Day Wednesday, June 28 — Student Led Conferences: Thursday, June 29 — Last Day of School and Learning Story Reports Sent Home
The Farm School Admissions Process
We are welcoming applicants for the 2022/2023 school year for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders!
Admissions Application: the first step in our admissions process is to complete an application and teacher recommendation form (email completed form to firstname.lastname@example.org). A separate application is required for each prospective student. All required documents are due by Monday, February 28th.
Interview: Families who complete the application and feel like future Farm Schoolers will be invited to an online parent and student interview with our Teacher Guides.
Student Visit: Following the online interview, students who feel like future Farm Schoolers will be invited to spend some time at our after care program Apricot Afternoons while parents tour the school and interview with our small enrollment team in person.
Invitations to Join: Invitations to join The Farm School will be sent out in mid March for enrollment for the upcoming 2022/23 school year. Families will have one week to accept the offer, make an initial deposit towards tuition, and sign the enrollment contract and forms to reserve a place for their child.