GREENFIELD – Greenfield High School has chickens in the classroom – along with rabbits and pigs.
But this is not the traditional classroom, with desks and a whiteboard. Greenfield High School purchased a farm a few miles from the school to house its animals and teach students in its agriculture program about farming, animals and farming businesses.
Teacher Beth Burrow oversees the farm with the help of her students, who have spent most of the school year renovating buildings on the farm grounds, building animal enclosures and cleaning up debris left by the former owners of the property.
“I taught for 20 years and this facility has been vacant for 15 years,” Burrow said. “I always thought I would like to create a farm where students can raise animals and learn.”
After working with the previous owners of the property and using a $ 15,000 grant for renovations, Burrow and the students of the district began to make his vision a reality.
Although it has only a few chickens, rabbits and pigs so far, the end goal is to expand as the program begins to make money and repairs are completed. Even the school’s agricultural business class will be involved in managing the finances of the farm.
Joelle Ford, incoming senior, said the farm makes for a big change of pace in the school day.
“It was nice to get out of the classroom, to be outside, to learn some practical skills,” said Ford. “We had to use tools, build things and take care of the animals. We recently raised baby rabbits and it was nice to watch them grow up. And the baby chickens that we raised are all big chickens now. . “
Pigs are a new addition to the farm. They will be mated later this summer so that the students are involved in the births and rearing of the piglets, Burrow said.
From feeding to shoveling manure, the students did it all this past school year.
“I love the responsibility he teaches children,” Burrow said. “They do everything – the food, the housework, the cleaning, the repairs. I could see it was something they were proud of.”
While a lot of work has already been done on the farm, there is still a lot of work to be done, Burrow said. Due to requests from the district insurance company, a lagoon on the property must be dry pumped, additional trees and brush must be removed, and the soil must be tilled before it can be turned into pasture for eventual use. for animals.
Much of the work has been donated by local businesses and community members who have come together to help with the projects, Burrow said.
“I am grateful for all the support so many people have shown for this crazy idea,” she said. “And I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who think it’s crazy.”
Once the water is removed, the students will help build fences around the property and with any additional work that needs to be done, Burrow said. Other community members volunteered to remove trees and brush and help with the land.
Ford said she was excited to continue working the farm next school year.
“We had to make sure we had a good foundation on which to build the rest,” said Ford. “It has been satisfying to see our work and to see the difference from what it looked like before. “
The farm is still in its infancy, but Burrow is hopeful that he knows where it will go, she said.
“The goal is for it to be a stand-alone farm supervised by students,” Burrow said. “The hope is that when we sell our hogs we will have enough profit for the next batch and we will just keep growing.”
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