By DAYNA DRUM | Reporter
As Paul Revere Charter Middle School sixth graders lined up outside of their Agriculture class, a rooster crowed in the background signaling the start of a new period. Each year about 500 students—a quarter of the student body—come through Carrie Robertson’s classroom to learn about farming, gardening and the outdoors.
Robertson has been teaching part of the agriculture program at Paul Revere for five years. Growing up in a farming family instilled in Robertson a passion for agriculture and a comfort with the outdoors. This particular day, during a campus visit by the Palisadian-Post, is an outdoor workday in the two-acre piece of land nestled on the back edge of Paul Revere’s campus. The class of about 40 students navigates past the animal pen, raised garden beds and a greenhouse to arrive at their work area for the day.
The students set to work clearing vines overtaking the base of an elderberry tree, chatting and laughing while they work.
“It’s not just about child labor,” Robertson joked light-heartedly. Her actual goal for the program is for the students to “create a sense of familiarity with nature.”
The farm boasts over 40 different types of crops, including avocadoes, oranges and a small vineyard. High-volume production isn’t one of Robertson’s goals.
“I just want them to see stuff,” she said.
The drought has been tough on the farm, Robertson explained, but with the little produce the students do harvest, they throw “salad parties” to eat the literal fruits of their labor.
With each new group of students, Robertson tells them they will learn how to hypnotize a chicken by the end of the class. All joking aside, the students take with them a deeper understanding of agriculture and food in general that flows outside of the classroom.
Eighth-grader Nathan Kovobkin is considering a career in the garden industry. Through the hands-on experience in the program, Kovobkin has hatched two chickens and now gets fresh eggs from them daily.
Sustainable farming methods are also a focus in the program, showing the students how to make choices that fit best into the entire ecosystem.
“Every choice is very intentional,” Robertson said.
Andre Olivera, also in eighth grade, explained he likes the hands on aspect of the program, too.
“You actually do things in this class,” Olivera said.
The student even went vegetarian for six months, which he partly attributes to the class.
Robertson said she especially loves teaching middle school because the students are discovering who they are. Many of the students appreciate the unique nature of the outdoors learning experience.
“No other school has a garden like this,” Kovobkin said.
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