Kindergarteners from Vine Hill Elementary got their hands dirty this week, when they took a field trip to Bee Fruitful Farms in Scotts Valley.
On Tuesday, Laurie Ponos’ Kindergarten class of 27 students enjoyed what the local farm had to offer, while learning how those foods were grown naturally.
“We are plating seed for a better community, better families, better friendships, better relationships, and we do it by hosting an organic farm for people to enjoy,” said Sue Draper, owner of Bee Fruitful Farm.
Operated and owned by the Draper family, BFF is dedicated to teaching the community about sustainable agriculture, and being more connected with nature.
“I am always trying to hammer home how good food is good for your body,” said Bonnie Niesen, one of the many parents who joined their kids on the trip. “So this is cool that they get to see, because we don’t have a garden at home, so this is an opportunity for the kids to see where the food is coming from.”
Draper and her daughter-in-law Mandy Draper, organized a series of activities for the children, including a farm tour where they could try the fresh produce straight from the soil, and identify garden pests — which they labeled as “heroes” or “villains.”
“Its super cute because they let them try different vegetables,” said Tina Edwards, another parent chaperone on the trip. “They let them try is sorrel and it tastes like lemon and all of the kids love it, even the adults,”
Many children don’t have gardens at home, and have limited access to natural environments.
“There are so many kids growing up — due to urbanization, densification — that don’t have opportunities to communicate with nature like this,” explained Mandy, “so that’s really why we decided to do this.”
One Kindergartener on the trip, 6-year-old Ava Dumesny, said that she liked learning about how things grow at BFF.
“I am learning that there are a lot of things in nature that you shouldn’t pick, like seeds and stuff that are still growing,” she said.
Thomas Herzog is the head gardener who has teamed up with the Drapers to grow foods naturally and sustainable.
“It’s a really good opportunity we have set up here where they are letting me have a profitable enterprise of my own business,” Herzog said. “While they also at the same time, get to take advantage of it and get the schools out here and do the education side.”
Herzog sells directly to the farmers market and has grown a large variety of produce this season including many different kinds of greens, as well as fennel, sorrel, lettuces, turnips, radishes, onions, cucumbers and watermelons.
The kids also learned a thing or two about recycling and reusing materials, went on an animal walk to the creek and through the forest, and enjoyed a snack of fresh carrots and strawberry soda made right in front of their eyes. They also planted sunflower starts in pots that they painted for Mother’s Day.
“Our goal is for kids to come learn, love nature, and then be inspired to plant a home garden,” Sue said, “… and to eat healthier, to be more active, to reduce their waste, to be connected to the earth, connected to each other, connected to how they fit into the whole system.”