There has been a lot of activity the last couple weeks at the auction. We’ve been hosting students from our local schools for the annual School Day at the CPA field trips. So far we’ve had kids from 10 different schools come out to visit for a day of learning about local food systems and the environment. We only have one more day left!
After welcoming the students, we rotate them through five activity stations. At the first station, the students learn about healthy eating with Live Healthy Kids. This year, we’re demonstrating how to make a strawberry vinaigrette dressing for a leafy salad with asparagus and cut strawberries. Though salad is not usually a favorite of 2nd graders, the dressing encouraged most of them to at least try it.
At the second station, the students are introduced to the economics of food at the Mock Auction & Donation Station. Here they get to experience a staged produce auction and are instructed on how to donate what food they don’t need to a mock Community Food Initiatives booth. In this way we teach them how to get the most out of their dollars while keeping fresh food moving in a local food system.
At lunch, some friends from the Zero Waste program show and tell about trash, helping students to sort their waste into recyclables, compostables, and true trash items.
We have some folks from Rural Action’s Environmental Education program educating the students on what role insects play in food systems as pollinators at the third station, Bug Catching. They are equipped with nets, warned about bees and other harmful bugs, and assisted in transferring their captured critters from into a holding container for observation.
The fourth station continues in the field. Here the groups learn about worms and composting from a master gardener and instructed on how to sow seeds in the CPA Incubator Farm. This activity introduces kids that have never planted anything before to the role in their own food system, as well as the important role that decomposers play in the cycle of food production.
Lastly, the Trail Scavenger Hunt station leads kids on a short trail through the woods, where they are taught about the role of Sugar Maple trees in the production of maple syrup, how to identify the bones of an opossum and other natural features present along the path.
I think the volunteers and staff members at the CPA enjoy these events just as much as the kids. It is so refreshing to see young people engaging in their community while having fun with their friends. We’re already looking forward to Harvest Days, a series of events in the fall for students to come and enjoy hayrides, yard Jenga, pumpkins, and more!
Emily Elam is a Hocking College graduate and the current Chesterhill Produce Auction/Sustainable Agriculture Community Development AmeriCorps Member at Rural Action.