By Roxanne Hanna
With the conclusion of the intern program mid-August, we have been hosting more field trips lately. Even though we are more limited in the amount of depth we can get into (because we only have one day together) I have enjoyed every field trip we’ve had so much. Many of the children have surprised me with their total enthusiasm and lack of fear with the bees. There have been times when we have given field trip groups an entire run-down of the bee hives, showing them the big-eyed appearance of the drones, the pollen sacks on the legs of the returning worker bees, and even passed around a fresh honeycomb to taste. Even when someone would get stung, which only happened twice, they were very calm and able to receive my lesson on using plantain as a poultice for the stings. To my own amazement, both children who used this method reported no pain and reduced swelling in less than a minute after applying!
They also enjoy tasting fresh herbs that you can’t even find in a store, like the sweet anise hyssop, or the pungent nasturtium, or the crunchy succulent purslane. I can’t help but recall a farm field trip that I experienced in school while working with them. It always stands out as a clear and vivid memory, more so than most others I have of that time. Sometimes I wonder if that field trip may have impacted me in ways that I am unaware, and maybe it was those first tactile experiences that I accessed when I was drawn farming as my passion in adulthood. One thing I am reminded of each and every time we host children at the farm is that connection with soil, plants, and animals is so absolutely important for young people.
They bloom with the new tastes and smells and feels, they break down barriers that keep them out of the soil, and they get to experience the magic of a random butterfly landing on them, or a worm they can hold, or a caterpillar they found. There can’t be the too much hands-on experience of nature to cultivate a lifelong loving relationship with the wild. So let’s get them started young!