Promoting Innovative Education through Farm-Based Learning

Organization: Abundance Farm, Northampton, MA

Grant Year: 2015

Project Director: Jacob Fine

Type of Grant: Signature

Grant Amount: $120,000.00 (3 years)

Website: http://www.abundancefarm.org/

Through this grant, Abundance Farm sought to fully integrate experiential, farm-based education into Jewish educational life on its campus. In 2014, Abundance Farm broke ground to create a one-acre food justice farm and outdoor classroom. All of the produce grown on the Farm is donated to clients of the neighboring Northampton Survival Center. The Farm hosts holiday farm festivals, Kabbalat Shabbat services, Havdalah bonfires, and a number of educational programs. This grant helped move Abundance Farm to its next stage by empowering the staff of the campus day school, congregational school, preschool, and teen programs (Lander-Grinspoon Academy, ALMA Religious School, Gan Keshet, and Shefa, respectively) to integrate the Farm more fully into their educational landscapes.

There are four main components to this project:

  1. Farm Integration through holiday, prayer, and tzedek education. These efforts are being led by the Farm Director and Farm Educator with help from the Farm Integration Consultant and volunteers.
  2. Farm Integration through Project Based Learning: Lander-Grinspoon Academy and Gan Keshet are creating at least one project-based unit for each grade. Teachers will develop these projects in consultation with the Farm Integration Consultant, with support from the Farm Educator, and with supervision from a newly established Project Based Learning on the Farm team.
  3. Hebrew Language Acquisition on the Farm: Like many small day schools around the country, Lander-Grinspoon Academy uses the TaL AM curriculum. ALMA’s Hebrew curriculum includes Total Physical Response methodologies such as the Hebrew Through Movement. The Farm-based Hebrew curriculum will support the underlying philosophies of the existing curricula.
  4. Professional Development and Mini-Conferences: The Farm Integration Consultant designed professional development days based on the observations and input of the two teacher teams. They will offer professional development to the wider region, inviting teachers from other day schools and congregations throughout New England and upstate New York to two mini-conferences.