Round the Bend Farm testing out new summer program
Ruby Kinnane was in awe of the squishy Play-Doh she sat molding into various shapes, while her brother worked on making a loom out of twine, sticks, flowers and other materials.
It was all part of Round the Bend Farm's third Open Farm Day excursion on June 16, which allows the public to explore the grounds and participate in various activities. This month, children’s events served as a small introduction to a new program the non-profit organization will be piloting.
It’s called the Elements Learning Collaborative. Co-founded by Rachel Medeiros and Cristy O’Brien and operated in conjunction with Round the Bend Farm, it will run as a two-month, three-day-a-week educational summer program for kids ages three to 10.
The camp will focus on nature, according to the farm’s executive director, Desa Van Laarhoven. Most camp days will be spent outdoors at the farm, with hands-on activities like exploring, learning about ecosystems, working in garden beds, and with the community. A major focus is on using natural resources creatively, like the homemade Play-Doh featured at the Open Farm Day.
“I think it’s important for them to connect to nature and have a love of their world around them, so as they get bigger and the world gets bigger for them they can fall in love with other things in the world around them that are unfamiliar,” O’Brien said.
If all goes well, Van Laarhoven is hoping to continue the program.
“This is just a way to reconnect people,” Van Laarhoven. “We are nature. I am nature. It’s just a space where when you bring kids outside and you show them a worm for the first time or they taste a fresh strawberry they pluck out of the garden themselves, or a pea, it just tastes different. It connects them to nature but it also creates a nostalgic thing.”
It is also an opportunity for the organization to expand on its mission of diversity, education, modeling nature and redefining wealth through entrepreneurship and agripreneurship. Van Laarhoven called it one big laboratory where people can use the land in a symbiotic and mutualistic way.
“I think people who are connected to nature and have their hands in the dirt are actually calmer people,” Van Laarhoven said. “I think it’s in us. We’re made out of, what, 70 percent water, like to bring us to nature and submerge us into that, it just makes sense at our DNA level.”
For more information about the program, email Elements Learning Collaborative at firstname.lastname@example.org.