Cost: Free for public schools in Santa Barbara County

Who: Elementary Program- Students K-6 grades; Junior High Program- Goleta Valley Junior High students only

What: Elementary Program- A farm tour with two classroom visits; Junior High Program- An afterschool program

Why: To raise awareness about farming and food systems and to fulfill California Science Standards

Where: Fairview Gardens, an organic farm and non-profit education center in Goleta

When: Elementary Program- Fall 2012 Sessions: 10/8-25, 11/5-20 &11/26-29, 12/3-20. Winter and spring sessions will be announced in November 2012. Junior High Program- Weekly starting in October.

How to schedule the program?: Contact Maureen Foley,

Instead of just the usual batch of leafy greens and field crops, the farm is now bringing Urban Seeds, an educational program for elementary and junior high students, to the community, with the help of a generous grant from the Orfalea Foundation. The free program for Santa Barbara County public school students will help students learn about healthy eating, food systems, organic farming and more, while fulfilling California Science Standards.

According to Sharon Tollefson, Fairview Gardens Education Director, the Urban Seeds Program will help kids make better decisions around food and community.

“Our new Urban Seeds program brings children closer to a visceral appreciation, through classroom education and first hand, on the farm experiences,” Tollefson said.

The Urban Seeds Program has two elements: the Elementary Program and the Junior High Program. The first expands on Fairview Gardens’ farm tour program (the Elementary Program) and the second gives students a chance to interact on a weekly basis with a working organic farm (the Junior High Program). Both offer age-appropriate learning opportunities and fun farm adventures for students who are increasingly isolated from rural and agricultural life. Fairview Gardens’ goal is to reach approximately 2,200 students in the Urban Seeds program in its first year, from September 2012 to June 2013.

But what will the students actually see and do during the program? Urban Seeds Elementary Program will allow children to watch bees in action, brush farm goats, feed chickens, sample food straight from the field and more during a farm tour and classroom visits from a farm educator. Urban Seeds Junior High Program will focus more on food systems, giving those older students the chance to research a farm-related topic, maintain a garden plot and cook a quarterly community meal.

Ultimately, the Urban Seeds Program at Fairview Gardens is about promoting community connections and raising healthier children.

As Tollefson said, “If we are committed to raising our children to make healthy choices about food, community and environment, it is imperative that they experience these three pillars in a healthy balance. Becoming a part of Fairview Gardens allows children the opportunity to understand what it takes to grow food together and how it effects our local environment as well as our planet.”


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