Curriculum Teaching children to grow food
Farmer Frog is developing a Kindergarten to 12th grade STEM-based curriculum that we call “SOIL to STEM”: Social Outreach Innovative Learning (SOIL) leading to Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM). SOIL to STEM is a project-based, hands-on learning system rooted in agriculture that helps children succeed in the 21st Century. The curriculum incorporates the Farmer Frog school gardens and meets both Common Core requirements and Next Generation Science Standards.
Our team works with educators to integrate the SOIL to STEM curriculum with the gardens at their schools. We help teachers to teach all subjects they would teach in a classroom and integrate sustainable farming—which relies on many academic fields, including agricultural engineering, agroecology, and systems thinking. The Farmer Frog team has several members who are themselves active or retired teachers, ranging from preschool through college levels.
In addition to working with K through 12 educators, Farmer Frog also works with programs that offer Career and Technical Education. We train other professionals as well, including urban farmer educators, community organizers, and project managers, to successfully create, maintain, and run school gardens and urban community farms.
Why teach through farming?
Most children suffer from Nature Deficit Disorder, now labeled by healthcare professionals as NDD. People no longer know where their food comes from, how humans are part of nature and what fun and joy nature brings to us, if we choose to interact with it. Children also struggle often to understand how science really works. When they can apply their understanding of scientific facts or artistic practices in real life as a hands-on activity, they are able to comprehend complex, hard-to-understand subjects easily.
The average age of the American farmer is rising steadily, so we must train the next generation of farmers and we must create an understanding of the importance and appreciation for farming in everyone. Otherwise we simply will not eat. Farmer Frog’s goal is to teach all subjects to people (children and adults alike) through farming that is sustainable, and is interdisciplinary by nature. An interdisciplinary curriculum addresses the problems of “isolation, silos and missed opportunities” in education that Dr. Ellen Ebert—Science Director in the Teaching and Learning Program of Washington State’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction—warns about in her 2014 presentation “Environment and Sustainability Education in the 21st Century.”
We bring a willing partner, our organization, to the table for each community, school, teacher, and student we work with.