The practice of living sustainably is something that permeates many parts of our lives. When it comes to agricultural practices at the Manhattan Country School Farm, our practice takes the idea of sustainability a step further to what’s known as restorative or regenerative agriculture. This practice is evident to all of our students through daily routines, but was especially clear to our sixth-graders during their fall farm trip.
During farming class, the students were tasked with adding compost to the raised beds in the vegetable garden. Creating compost is essentially building nutrient rich soil. Compost is created several ways at the MCS Farm. Students in cooking class add eggshells and fruit peels to the compost bucket, which is then dumped into the compost tumbler by other students. When cleaning the animals’ stalls during barn chores, students scoop manure, sawdust and hay, which is spread directly on our hay fields and pastures or later mixed in the compost barn.
Over several months, the pile in the compost barn is mixed to create beautiful soil or “black gold.” By building our own organic soil, we avoid the need for chemical fertilizers. The sixth grade class was responsible for topping off the soil of more than 40 raised beds. They discussed soil structure and the nutrient needs of the plants we grow and eat. The connection will come full circle for the class during their spring farm trip, when they plant new fruits and vegetables in the very soil they helped to create.