Visiting Sustainable Family Farm

by Brendi Craver, JK Teacher
Mrs. Carson’s Alpha class had a great time on a field experience at the Sustainable Family Farm in Pinellas Park. Farmers (and Shorecrest parents) Erik Smith and Robin Clemmons did an excellent job sharing their knowledge of plants, bees and chickens, three-year-old style! The children had so much fun looking at, planting, and tasting herbs and veggies, spying on the bees working in their hive, and visiting their chicken friends.

All of the JK classes also visited the Sustainable Family Farm. Originally a sugar cane farm, the JK students were able to see up close how Farmer Sam (the original owner) was able to grow and harvest sugar cane in the "olden days." The children saw how sugar cane can be cut down, peeled back and then placed into a special machine that crushes the sugar cane into small pieces. Once ground down, the sugar cane was brought to a giant cauldron to be boiled down to juice. The sugar cane juice could then be bottled and sold or used to cook.

Chargers also saw how compost is an important part of gardening. Even though the class had mixed reviews about the smells coming from the composting area, they were very curious about what compost looks like and were surprised when they saw steam rising from the compost mounds as Farmer Robin shoveled it around.

The children loved seeing all the different plants found at the farm as well, from the vegetables just beginning to grow in the garden beds to the assortment of trees scattered across the property (banana, papaya, and mango to name a few). Many were surprised that they could eat the leaves and flowers of the Florida cranberry, and it was so good that several went back for more. Students had a blast as they explored the grounds and even ran circles through the "banana forest." Classes also got to see and learn about some very special garden helpers that live on the farm - honey bees!

By far one of the favorite parts of the trip was the chicken coop. The children loved getting up close to the chickens - seeing where they laid their eggs, feeding the fresh weeds they had just pulled, and having the chance to pet them. A few friends were even able to hold a chicken!

Our visit was capped off by washing hands using an old-fashioned water pump and then taste-testing fresh honey made by the bees from the farm. It was a wonderful trip that left many of us hoping to go back again!

More photos here thanks to Charger parent Annette Eichenbaum:


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Shorecrest Preparatory School is a private, non-sectarian, coeducational, college preparatory day school for students preschool through high school, located in St. Petersburg, Florida.