Seventh Grade Family Reunion
By John McDaniel, Farm Director
It often feels like a family reunion when the 7th grade comes together at their Manhattan Country School Farm. Having been split in homerooms with the 8th grade for the two Farm trips earlier in the school year, this was their first time being all together since last spring.
Industrious, might be an understatement when describing this group. Yes, I can hear parents and families saying, “Wait, what? My kid?” I believe, with equal doses, that leading by example, enjoying the work along with some positive peer pressure, helps to motivate this group. No matter the task or place, these folks dug in. Whipping up delicious meals in the kitchen, splitting firewood, planting fruits and veggies in the high tunnel, collecting maple sap, caring for the animals…the list goes on. This is a chatty bunch, but at the Farm, their talking isn’t a distraction from their work. They had great conversations, while moving dozens and dozens of bales of hay, cooking on the stovetop, kneading dough for bread, and needle felting in the textiles studio.
All of this work and a healthy dose of play made them very hungry. There were very few food scraps in the pig pale after meals of curried lamb, tacos, french toast, and pasta carbonara. For me personally, their visits to the sap house while I was boiling were special. Yes, they came to sip the maple tea, but the discussions about the process of sugaring, the history and science, and even the activism of abolitionists who used maple sugar to boycott cane sugar, which was made on the backs of enslaved people, were fascinating.