Brookview’s Farm & Garden program follows the natural flow of the seasons.
The beginning of the school year coincides with Southwest Michigan’s agriculture reaching its full maturity. Gardens are full with vegetables, apples, peaches, grapes and pears reaching their maximum sweetness. Winter squashes, pumpkins, potatoes, onions and drying corns are ready for storage. Some crops will be harvested fresh, while others will require preservation through drying, pickling and saucing. Activities will be woven throughout the curriculum and take place at school and at nearby GreenFire Gardens. Students will have a hand in all aspects of the fall harvest with a harvest festival open to all later in the year.
Brookview Students will also raise broiler chickens in the fall. Upper elementary and middle school students manage the growth of a flock of Rock Cornish cross broilers for a 7 week project. Middle school students manage the flock, keep records and evaluate growth, maturity and marketability of the birds. This is an entrepreneurial project. Day old chicks will be received and raised at the school. Students will maintain financial, labor and growth records, plotting the growth of the flock and integrating science, math, and business principles. The processed birds will then be sold, used by families, or for school events.
Our annual cycle of the farm year begins in February with the harvesting of sap from sugar maple trees. Sap is collected and boiled down into delicious maple syrup at GreenFire Gardens. Students are involved in selecting trees, drill and tapping, setting up bucket and pipeline systems, collecting the sap and boiling on a traditional wood fired evaporator. When complete we bottle it for sale or school use. Always a time of good work with a sweet product.
In February fertile quail eggs start in the incubators and will be monitored by the elementary students. Within 7 weeks of hatching the females should be laying beautiful tan and brown speckled eggs. The eggs will be sold and used in our slow snack program. Students will feed, clean and monitor the quail, process the eggs and prepare for sale or use. The eggs are delicious and just the right size for a snack.
The vegetable gardens start in late February with the planting of early greens in the classrooms that move to the greenhouse by mid-March. As the weather warms we move the plantings outside. The program is designed around production and eating. Animals and plants are a responsibility we need to embrace to understand the source of our food. Families will be encouraged to step up and assist during non-school periods.
Our efforts will be led by Colleen and Tom Hurst, experienced farmers and teachers who enjoy sharing their knowledge and love of local food with children and adults alike.