The Farm is like a stitch in time. We board a school bus, drive for hours and then everything slackens. It’s like a different dimension, like losing my glasses and finding a new pair that illuminates the world more clearly.
The award-winning Manhattan Country School Farm is a small working farm in the Catskill Mountains, 150 miles north of New York City in Roxbury, NY. The source of “Country” in the school’s name, the 200-acre property features a farmhouse that sleeps 24 students, a textile studio, a nature lab, a greenhouse, a barn, a recreation building, a sap house, a chicken house and a historic stone house.
Since 1966, more than 10,000 students have benefited from the MCS Farm program and have learned how to live more sustainable lives. More than 7,400 of these students have been from public, charter and independent schools in New York City and the local Catskill Mountain region.
MCS students first go to the Farm in the spring of their 7-8s year, accompanied by their classroom teachers. Their time at the Farm increases each year by frequency and length.
Students tend the gardens; care for the animals (chickens, cows, pigs and sheep); learn to weave; explore fields, mountains and streams; and study traditional and contemporary life in the Catskills. Zero-mile meals and a closed-loop food cycle are daily experiences. As students advance through elementary and middle school, their work at the Farm becomes more challenging, drawing on and enriching their classroom curriculum.
Farm trips emphasize human dependence on natural processes and community members’ reliance on each other. Working together to make the Farm relatively self- sufficient, students learn to use farm products for food, fuel and clothing. They examine the economies of nature—in the wild and at the Farm—and the best measures for environmental conservation. Sharing these activities, attending daily classes and performing household and barn chores, the students come to function as a mutually reliant community.
While the Farm produces a wide range of products to be consumed by the school community, we are most proud of producing graduates who have a deep, visceral understanding of the biological processes necessary to sustain life on this planet.
Since the installation of 140 solar panels in 2009, the Manhattan Country School Farm has saved 270 tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere.