November 2018

Sixth Grade Farm Trip: Halloween Edition

Blog Type:  Dispatches From the Farm Date Posted:  Saturday, November 3, 2018 Byline:  By John McDaniel

Immersion in rural culture, language and traditions has always been a hallmark of the Manhattan Country School Farm experience. Throughout our student’s childhood at the Farm, they have the opportunity to celebrate customs linked to food, gardening practices tied to the weather and seasonal holidays and observations.

The MCS 6th grade class stayed at the Farm during Halloween.  While the urban and rural practice of dressing like someone you’re not and going from door to door for treats is similar, the logistics are quite different. Interviewing the class prior to going out, we all learned something new from each other. Some kids who live in “high rise” buildings receive a list of apartments that are participating.  In some city neighborhoods, kids travel from stoop to stoop to be greeted by other costumed people with treats. Some MCS kids start at the top of their building and work their way down, while others do the opposite.

In Roxbury, NY there is a historic main street with a couple of neighborhood streets off it. Many houses are decorated for the occasion with traditional jack-o-lanterns, spider webs, corn stalks and more modern inflatable creatures. Our kids split up in three groups of seven and along with two adults and moved through town. At some houses they were greeted by ghoulish masks or funny faced individuals. Some streets are only lit by porch lights of the houses on the block as there are few street lights. Our groups probably covered more than a mile to fill their bags as opposed to many flights of stairs. One unique stop was to the house of a craft soap maker, who in addition to giving out sweet treats, also offered homemade soap shaped like pumpkins! The night wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the firehouse. Our Roxbury volunteer firefighters provide hot dogs, doughnuts, apple cider and hot chocolate to the revelers.

8-9s Farm Trip - See you again in January!

Blog Type:  Dispatches From the Farm Date Posted:  Friday, November 16, 2018

We often hear or use the phrase, “paying it forward.” This usually pertains to doing a good deed for others or a random act of kindness. We’ve been using this phrase the past couple weeks at the Manhattan Country School Farm to reflect on our gardening practices.

Our students, first and foremost are soil farmers. It’s necessary to supply new, organic matter to our vegetable gardens. The basis of preparing and building soil with a balance of nutrients each plant requires is vital in providing healthy and delicious foods for our community.

The past two weeks our 8-9’s Oeste and Este classes were at the Farm. Oeste was busy in the gardens, harvesting the last of our root crops like potatoes and carrots. They pulled weeds and fed them to our chickens and turned the soil over by hand. During meal preparation, each class added potato peels, fruit skins and egg shells to our compost bucket. When cleaning our cow stalls the kids dump the manure, old sawdust and hay into the spreader which is either broadcast on our hay fields or piled in the compost barn. The mix of animal and plant waste is then turned periodically to aid the decomposition process which creates rich organic soils.

The Este homeroom arrived with the task of adding the nutrient rich compost to the garden beds during Farming class. With the bucket of our tractor full of compost, some kids shoveled it into wheelbarrows while others dumped it into the beds and spread it around. This process continued throughout the week, seeing most of the lower garden finished. Almost every meal served at the MCS Farm has direct connections to our garden. However, this week we enjoyed an ingredient connected directly to the process of decomposition.

In September, our 5th grade class inoculated logs with oyster mushroom spores and stacked them totem style in the farmhouse basement. As the mycelium spread through the logs and began the process of breaking down the wood fibers it also “fruited” providing us with beautiful mushrooms. Wednesday evening dinner was pizza prepared by kids in cooking class. The topping choices were sweet Italian sausage made from our pigs and beautiful oyster mushrooms growing in our dark basement.

Even though every student a MCS doesn’t perform each task in the garden due to the seasonality of their trips, they do have knowledge that someone has come before them. The 9-10’s and 6th grade will do the bulk of the planting on their spring trips in May, but every member of our MCS Farm community will enjoy the fruits of all labor and our practice of paying it forward.

Please be advised that the MCS Farm is closed to school groups for the upcoming holidays and 6-week hunting season. We will resume farm trips in January 2019. Season's Greetings!

Thanks For Your Help During the NYSAIS Visit!

Blog Type:  From the Directors Date Posted:  Friday, November 16, 2018 Byline:  By Michele Sola

Accreditation is a comprehensive year-long process that members of New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) undergo every ten years. A narrative self-study report examines every aspect of the school including governance, administration, the community, and academic programs. For MCS it includes the school and the Farm. We also submit reports that provide them with quantities of data. Then NYSAIS schedules a team of educators to visit the school and assess the alignment between its mission and program, and its progress toward strategic goals. Our 2018 visiting committee just left after four days. Their report will be submitted to NYSAIS and we will hear their assessment and recommendations later in the year.

The educators who made up the 2018 visiting committee were from some of the leading progressive schools in New York City. None of them served on the visiting committee that conducted our NYSAIS accreditation ten years ago in 2008. Yet it was clear to all of them that we’re part way into a big undertaking, and they encouraged us to keep going. Emily Jones, the director of the Putney School, was the chair NYSAIS Committee. Representing the whole team, Emily shared a few highlights before they left. The welcome reception on Sunday evening set a tone that they realized was completely consistent with our mission, and a distinctive definition of “community” at MCS. The meetings with Student Council, Parent Council, and virtually every member of the faculty and staff revealed uncharacteristic agreement on why MCS is important and what the purpose of education should be. The differences of opinion, reflective of our purposeful diversity, are mostly about how.

Thank you for sharing with NYSAIS and helping MCS’ accreditation process by completing the family survey last spring, as well as for attending the reception and meetings this week.

Newsletters Referencing this Item

Cultivating Kindness on the 8-9s Farm Trip

Blog Type:  Dispatches From the Farm Date Posted:  Friday, November 16, 2018

We often hear or use the phrase, “paying it forward.” This usually pertains to doing a good deed for others or a random act of kindness. We’ve been using this phrase the past couple weeks at the Manhattan Country School Farm to reflect on our gardening practices.

Our students, first and foremost are soil farmers. It’s necessary to supply new, organic matter to our vegetable gardens. The basis of preparing and building soil with a balance of nutrients each plant requires is vital in providing healthy and delicious foods for our community.

The past two weeks our 8-9’s Oeste and Este classes were at the Farm. Oeste was busy in the gardens, harvesting the last of our root crops like potatoes and carrots. They pulled weeds and fed them to our chickens and turned the soil over by hand. During meal preparation, each class added potato peels, fruit skins and egg shells to our compost bucket. When cleaning our cow stalls the kids dump the manure, old sawdust and hay into the spreader which is either broadcast on our hay fields or piled in the compost barn. The mix of animal and plant waste is then turned periodically to aid the decomposition process which creates rich organic soils.

The Este homeroom arrived with the task of adding the nutrient rich compost to the garden beds during Farming class. With the bucket of our tractor full of compost, some kids shoveled it into wheelbarrows while others dumped it into the beds and spread it around. This process continued throughout the week, seeing most of the lower garden finished. Almost every meal served at the MCS Farm has direct connections to our garden. However, this week we enjoyed an ingredient connected directly to the process of decomposition.

In September, our 5th grade class inoculated logs with oyster mushroom spores and stacked them totem style in the farmhouse basement. As the mycelium spread through the logs and began the process of breaking down the wood fibers it also “fruited” providing us with beautiful mushrooms. Wednesday evening dinner was pizza prepared by kids in cooking class. The topping choices were sweet Italian sausage made from our pigs and beautiful oyster mushrooms growing in our dark basement.

Even though every student a MCS doesn’t perform each task in the garden due to the seasonality of their trips, they do have knowledge that someone has come before them. The 9-10’s and 6th grade will do the bulk of the planting on their spring trips in May, but every member of our MCS Farm community will enjoy the fruits of all labor and our practice of paying it forward.