9-10's Continue their Immigration Study at the MCS Farm
Students in the 9-10s study the history of immigration in New York City and in the Catskills. During their November Farm trip in Nature Class, the kids explored the Farm’s forest, meadows and pastures looking for historic signs of early settlers. While reading the land, the kids discussed why people chose the Catskill Mountains as a place to settle. Understanding that the mountainous landscape and harsh winters are not ideal for farming, the kids quickly realized that people came here because “better” farm land was already taken.
We talked about the abundance of fresh clean water, huge swaths of timber and plentiful wildlife for food and clothing which attracted people. One student quickly made the connection to certain urban neighborhoods that have better schools, stores, parks, hospitals and police protection and thus are more expensive than others. “Kind of like all the good land that was taken and people had to look elsewhere.”
In the middle of the woods, kids crawled around and over stone walls constructed hundreds of years ago. These walls provide evidence that the heavily forested land was once open pasture for livestock and that the rocks came from soil that was cleared and plowed to create more fields. When the classes return in the spring, the students will look at the construction of the New York City reservoirs, which attracted hundreds of craftsmen who were, at the time, recent immigrants from Europe.