I’m Shi Yan, 34, the director of shared harvest farm in Beijing, China.
We created the farm four years ago, adopting the community supported agriculture (CSA) model to cooperate with the local farmers in Beijing, producing local, seasonal, and organically grown veggies and other food products.
We invite urban citizens to become our members connecting with the people who grow the food for them, getting back to the earth and the nature. Recently, we set up Children of the Earth School.
Agriculture is closely interrelated with the human diet. Agriculture is also the portal through which we can change the world through changing ourselves. Agriculture is not only a means to produce farm products, but is also an important part of our food culture education.
More importantly, agriculture is a way to interact with nature. In order for ‘eat in season, eat locally’ to become a dietary ideology, there must be a localized movement. This movement must be established on a global scale.
When dealing with topics such as food surplus and food shortages, the influence of our diet on agricultural production structure, and the relationship between agriculture, finance and politics, we must tackle these problems with a globalized thought process.
Only through a globalized approach can we start to see that ‘change starts with us’ is not just a meaningless slogan.
We hope that through raising these important issues, we can attract children to come see the farm and experience the natural world. The earth is our mother and everyone is her child.
Here at Children of the Earth School, by engaging in farming activities, children understand the theory of natural agriculture and study traditional survival methods. They also learn where their food comes from.
Children of the Earth School promotes harmonious interactions between people and nature. Our teaching philosophy puts emphasis on practice, theory, and entertainment.
Here, organic farming and our day school are closely intertwined. The students attend class at our farm and receive instruction from our famers in fun, interactive, natural setting.
Our main activities include: a day at the farm, farming classes, farming summer camp, healthy food education, edible school garden, etc. We get parents together and share advice and resources like this leading site for parents. We will also regularly hold group purchasing of organic vegetables and meat at the school.
We support establishing a harmonious relationship between the community and local, sustainable food production.
Main Course Description
A Day at the Farm
Encourages children to establish direct contact with the earth, students attend a day of work on the farm in groups, the farm will organize activities according to age and needs of the child. Normally, activities will last three to four hours.
Students will arrive at the farm around 10 a.m., tour the farm, and get to know different vegetables and farm animals.
For lunch, most of our food is fresh and organic from our farm. For afternoon workshop, children can choose farm-work or a food activity such as making cherry wine, strawberry jam, or dried eggplant. (The activities vary with the season.)
By attending classes that vary with the season, students can systematically understand agriculture, including planting seeds, agricultural production, food production etc.
Farming Summer Camp
In the summer, we will organize a camp where our students eat and live on the farm, participate in daily farm production labour, experience village farming culture, and group living.
Every child must independently cook a meal and study how to prepare simple foods, such as Doujiang, Mantou, and Jiaozi etc.
Food Education Curriculum
At the Children of the Earth School, our students get to understand where their food comes from, how it grows and which foods are healthy.
Our school assigns students classes according to their age. Presently, we offer many courses.
For example, ‘Where does food come from?’ is a course that teaches students to differentiate various vegetables and fruits through tasting and touching.
This course also teaches students fun facts about different vegetables as well as what conditions they are grown in.
‘Healthy Food Habits’ is a course that teaches students about artificial additives as well as the oil, salt, and sugar content of foods.
Through gaining knowledge about the harms of artificial food ingredients, we hope that our students can make healthier diet choices.
‘Food and Seasons’ is a course that teaches students how to differentiate between the growing environments and seasons of vegetables.
Finally, ‘Cook it Yourself’ is a course that teaches students about jiaosu (using yeast and other enzymes to cook), wine production, cracker making etc.
Edible School Garden
The Edible School Garden provides a space for children to actively dig in the dirt and grow vegetables!
The garden provides professional management and maintenance service. Every week, children can attend a hands-on farming class in the garden. The children get a chance to manage the garden themselves and use their food harvest to organize a farmer’s market on school grounds.
These sorts of activities establish a tight-knit food community between the students, their families, and staff. The proceeds from the farmer’s market will go towards maintaining the garden.
The budget of this programme
- labour and the dormitory: USD 2,600
- cost of CSA promotion: US 400
- tools for class: USD 800
- transport cost: USD 800
- maintenance cost: USD 400
Blogpost and picture submitted by Shi Yan (China): peijun_1993[at]163.com
The content, structure and grammar are at the discretion of the author only.
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