Children kid around with baby goats for Open Farm Day

Apr 22, 2019

On a misty Saturday morning, families turned out in droves at Round the Bend farm to partake in the first of their monthly series of Open Farm Days.

Everyone who came was invited to tour the farm, play games, meet the baby goats and pigs, make playdough, and attend a soap-making workshop.

“I think it’s awesome,” said Alex Lederman while his two-year-old Odin tried to play cornhole to the sounds of live accordion music. “It’s kind of like a part of American culture that doesn’t get enough credit.”

Desa Van Laarhoven, Executive Director at Round the Bend, said that she was happy with the number of people who came out.

“It’s going really well,” she said. “Especially because the rain is holding off, and that was the big stress.”

Round the Bend would have held the event rain or shine, as they have a new indoor learning center — but Van Laarhoven was worried that people would stay home.

Her fears turned out to be groundless, as more than 150 people stopped by throughout the day.

Cristy O’Brien, co-founder and director of the Elements Nature Program at Round the Bend, helped some of the kids make playdough out of natural ingredients.

The Elements program — now in its second year and with a distinctive tipi set up at the farm entrance — runs year-round, although they are also holding an 8-week summer program.

O’Brien said that they base the program off the core Round the Bend tenets of redefining wealth, valuing diversity, and modeling nature.

“We want to start with the kids in that philosophy,” she said. “So we have a children’s garden, we have project-based learning that’s real, on the farm, so it’s very child-led play-based learning.”

Two boys at the playdough table helped illustrate this method.

Jyzier, 5, was mixing up a big bowl of playdough and other ingredients while his twin Jyell twirled a spoon nearby. “I’m making twig soup!” he declared.

When asked about their favorite part of the day, each brother had a different answer. “Mine was mixing up playdough,” said Jyzier. “Mine was touching the goats,” said his slightly more distracted sibling.

Their aunt, Sherry Prenda — a Dartmouth resident babysitting two out of three triplets — was happy with how the day was going.

“What a great place this is. It’s so neat and clean and organized and friendly,” she said. “We saw it on Facebook, so we came here, and it’s great!” She then ran off after one of the boys, who had abandoned the playdough table to seek his fortune elsewhere.

Meanwhile a group of children were holding baby goats in a hay-lined pen.

Donna St. Amant passed her seven-year-old granddaughter Hailey Nilsen a baby animal.

She commented: “It’s great to have the opportunity to come and visit a farm like this. It’s beautiful. It’s nice for the kids.”

Hailey agreed. “I think it’s really cool to see the animals and touch them,” she said.

Jess Cook, who lives down the street from the farm, paused while pulling a wagon filled with her two children and their friend.

“It’s amazing,” she said of the Open Farm Day. “It’s a great community event, and there’s arts and crafts and animals and scoops for the kids. Can’t go wrong.”