A school with its own organic farm…how great is that?! (part 2)

With Gail’s blog post on Sunnivue, and the current Grade Three class returning this week from their own Sunnivue Farm experience, it reminded me of when my former Grade Three student had their “Sunnivue Trip”.  I wrote about it for the LunchBag News back in 2008.  I thought I would repost here…

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The Grade Three Trip to Sunnivue Farm: One Parent’s Reflections
October 2008

Yes, I will admit it…the night before the Grade 3 trip to Sunnivue Farm I was a little restless.  I could hear my daughter tossing and turning in her bed, as I did the same in mine. She tossed because of excitement; I tossed because of anxiety.

As I lay restless, I asked myself “What is there to be anxious about?”
And then it returned: 15 children.  3 days.  2 nights.

The next day, with weary eyes, the adventure began.  It was a big day for the Grade Three class.  Not only were they going to Sunnivue, but they were also playing the dragon in the Michaelmas Pageant! I watched from hill as the mighty dragon emerged from the bushes. I reflected as Mr. Lewis told the story…a story of celebrating deeds of strength and courage…a story of facing our dragons; I thought it was a rather apt narrative to begin this trip.

At Sunnivue

The cool and dampness of the morning gave way to a glorious autumn afternoon at Sunnivue Farm.  After a settling in period, we were given a tour of the farm by “Farmer Alex”.  His tour took us through the pastures, down to the river and up past the barn. The river was the first opportunity to get really dirty on the trip…and many took full advantage of it! Nothing that a change of clothes couldn’t fix…

Our home base for the trip was the Farm Store.  The porch was our kitchen, its grounds our living room, and the second floor our sleeping quarters.  With a sod roof above us, and hay-insulated walls surrounding us, our sleeping area was nice and cozy.

The first dinner began with an enthusiastic, hand clapping, foot stomping rendition of the“Johnny Appleseed” blessing.   And boy…was the food good! Sarah Labatt, another parent volunteer was a truly inspiring chef…her warm, nourishing meals were enjoyed by all.  Washing the dishes was done in teams of four, each taking their turn to help.  While some were on dish duty, others explored the nearby pond. They delighted at finding tadpoles, searching for frogs, and getting mucky…really mucky.

The days were spent harvesting pumpkins, collecting wood or mucking stalls; the evenings spent around the fire.  The second evening was so clear, and the stars so brilliant, that some spent time locating their favourite constellations in the night sky.

I could go on and on about the trip…but the experiences were far too many to express in this forum.  However, my key reflection from the trip was how unique each of the children are as individuals; and how wonderful they relate as a class.  Familial in nature, they helped each other, laughed, argued and played.  They gathered to sway on the porch swing, to marvel at the size of the carrots, and to watch a caterpillar creep across a classmate’s hand.

And so I return to the dragon…and facing our dragons.  Many were faced on this trip…for some it was being away from home for the first time, for others it was trying new things.  But they weren’t alone, they faced them from the security of their class.

As a parent, I know that my child will confront many more dragons in the years to come. I believe now, more than ever, that having the same main-lesson teacher and class throughout her elementary years will help her to develop the confidence and courage to tackle those dragons. So, thank you… thank you to Miss Judges for fostering a nurturing and engaging learning environment…. thank you to the London Waldorf School your commitment to giving our children “roots and wings” and most of all, thank you to the Grade Three class for allowing me to share in your Sunnivue experience.

I will sleep well tonight.

Janine McComb, Grade Three Parent
From The Lunchbag News, November edition 2008

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