Chipping Hill Micro Farms – USDA Farm to School Grant Program
2. Describe your experience in farm to school initiatives
CHMF currently produces food and offers garden and nutrition curriculum at seven Philadelphialocations. Weekly tastings of salads and vegetables grown in our Micro Farms occur at each of the sites to complement age appropriate lessons, which include gardening, agriculture, botany,and environmental studies.At
ACPPA Community Art Center
, children age 11-14 assisted in the building of a 4 by 8 footMicro Farm, growing 12 types of vegetables.
graders startedvegetables indoors then transplanted them to a portable Micro Farm on site. At an afterschool program at
Tree House Books
, CHMF runs a Micro Farming program to supplement afterschoolsnacks for children age 6-12, and assists in the design and implementation of a summer camp.We also impact students during their formative preschool and kindergarten years. We bring farmto school programming to 2-5 year-olds at
LibertyMe Dance Center
with a 4 x 13 foot MicroFarm as well as a 4 x 6 foot garden bed. The Micro Farm is heated with a 400 watt propagation panel embedded in the soil, allowing for year-round teaching opportunities.
is home to both portable and permanent Micro Farms, supported by theresources of a small greenhouse attached to a dedicated classroom and kitchen space. We operateone-hour classes for daycare groups up to four days a week. Groups of 10-30 children returnweekly to watch the growth of the garden, eat fresh picked veggies, and play in the arboretum’sgreen space.
North Light Community Center
hosts multiple classes for ages 3-11, and an 8-week summer camp for 35 children. Using two portable Micro Farms, we began by teaching soil formulationand seed germination, and now tend and eat vegetables.
Wyck Historic House and Garden
hasintegrated our Micro Farms into their extensive summer programming that impacts 500 children primarily from surrounding neighborhoods. A permanent Micro Farm has enabled us to continueour programming year-round.
3. Farm to School Lessons Learned to Date
Our most important lesson to date has been that children must take ownership of theireating habits. You can’t empower a child to make healthy choices by simply putting carrotson their plate; they must build a relationship with their food from the roots up. We haveseen again and again that when a child helps germinate and tend a seed, water and protect it from weeds, and watch it grow, they’ll make the choice to taste it on their own.That first bite is exciting. Children report they love the taste‐‐now associated with a multi‐sensory, tactile experience—and go home asking their parents for more. Involving childrenin all stages of the process, from planting to harvest,
even on a very small scale
, imparts anunderstanding of self‐sufficiency and sustainability, and makes healthy eating both naturaland desirable.