Where ever you are, I encourage you to check out some agro-tourism this summer. Many farms are open for exploration, whether it’s a pick-your-own strawberry farm (going there next week!) or a CSA offering discounted shares for sweat equity. I believe that children should learn where their food comes from, how plants grow, what animals look like before they are meat.
When we started hanging out with Carlos, he was seven. We were astonished by the things he didn’t know. We took him to a cut-your-own Christmas tree farm and he asked us if the tree would come with lights on it. He pointed to my neighbor’s cows and asked which of the animals were boys. “They’re all girls,” I told him without looking.
“How do you know?” he said.
“It’s a dairy farm. Only girls make milk.”
“That’s not fair!” he said. I couldn’t agree more.
Over the years, we have taught him about how things grow. He helps us put in our garden. He sees the tomatoes ripening and knows when they are ready to eat. He helps gather eggs when we have chickens and goes to the dairy to see the cows ready for milking.
I want to make sure that Silas gets to know about agriculture beginning at a very early age. This shouldn’t be hard. We do, after all, live on the back forty of a farm. The machinery fascinates him. He is starting to notice the cycles of planting, growing, and cutting. When he’s bigger, we’ll take him to see the milking happen.
In the mean time, we visit farms that are child-friendly. A local lavender farm has a great setup–in addition to seeing (and cutting) acres of lavender, children can visit all sorts of farm animals, from giant rabbits (in the “rabbitat”) to goats, miniature horses, sheep, regular horses, turkeys, and ducks.
The admission is reasonable–it used to be free, but maybe too many people were just coming for the animals, because this year it is $3 per person. It was totally worth it. The kids loved the turkeys, ducks, and rabbits the most.
We had a little picnic on the porch of the farm shop, while the children ran up and down the garden rows. Mine came home pleasantly worn out, and Silas finally understands the difference between a turkey and a chicken.
Oh, and the lavender smell is better (and cheaper) than therapy.