Agricultural Education Programming
As our planet faces a climate crisis, today’s students understand that environmental issues need to be addressed in their lifetime. With agriculture contributing 21-37% of annual greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, agricultural education is critical to a climate solution.
Today’s students are also faced with an obesity crisis, with 19.3% of children between 2-19 experiencing obesity in 2018, according to the CDC. Our garden-based educational programming instills our students with respect for the environment and an understanding of how critical a local food system is for human and environmental health. These values are taught through a gardening lens, while introducing students to nutritious recipes that highlight the joy of eating vegetables–especially when they are grown by our students themselves!
Environmental education also benefits a student’s academic performance. An analysis of academic literature conducted by Stanford University in 2017 found that the following benefits were consistently attributed to environmental education programs:
Knowledge about the environment including issues and solutions
Improved academic performance
Enhanced critical thinking skills
Development of personal growth and life-building skills including confidence, autonomy, and leadership
Increased civic engagement and positive environmental behaviors
To engage local students in agricultural education with a focus on introductory plant science, culinary and nutrition education, environmental sustainability, and mental wellbeing. Our classes are modified to serve different age groups and abilities, with a particular emphasis on working with students who are enrolled in supportive classes due to cognitive or behavioral disorders.
We host year-round, weekly classes in partnership with local schools and organizations (detailed below) through which we introduce students to the joy of growing and eating plants. Through our garden-based education program, we teach the basics of plant science, cultivate edible and sensory gardens, enjoy nutritional plant-based snacks, and practice mindfulness activities to support students’ mental wellbeing.
We also partner with local higher-education institutions to enhance our programming through specialties such as nutrition education. These partnerships are detailed below.
Mainland Regional High School
We have partnered with Mainland Regional High School since 2020 to provide agricultural education classes to their special needs and behavioral programs. Mainland students come to the farm every week throughout the school year and are engaged in plant science, botanical arts, and culinary instruction.
Boys and Girls Club of Atlantic City
Our partnership with the Boys and Girls Club includes seasonal programming events focusing on gardening, arts, and nutrition. This partnership culminates in a farm-to-table summer camp hosted in partnership with their Executive Chef, and includes maintenance of both the farm’s and Teen Center’s gardens.
Jefferson University Masters of Nutrition and Dietetics
Our farm has formed a 5-year agreement with Jefferson University to serve as a preceptor site for their new Masters of Nutrition program. We host graduate students in this program throughout the school year, in a variety of classes including Environmental Sustainability and Nutrition Education. These students learn about the importance of local farming in supporting the health of communities, as well as the health of the environment. Each student conducts an independent project, which furthers our nutrition education programming on the farm.
Northfield Community School
We host three special needs classes from Northfield Community School for bi-monthly lessons in our gardens, incorporating plant science, botanical arts, and culinary instruction.
Egg Harbor Township High School
During the 2022 school year, we hosted three groups from Egg Harbor Township High School’s special needs program for weekly classes, in which we engage students in garden-based learning, culinary instruction, and botanical arts.
During the 2022 school year, we hosted garden-based learning courses with Eagle Academy, an EHT school for students who have been transferred from traditional classes due to behavioral challenges.