Fresh Idea

Fresh Idea: Green River Preserve’s KALE program offers a new approach to learning about agriculture
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What better place for children to learn about photosynthesis than in a greenhouse? That’s the thinking behind KALE (Kids’ Agricultural Learning Experience), an initiative of Green River Preserve summer camp in Cedar Mountain that brings area students to the camp’s farm for a day of experiential education.

“We wanted to design a program that teachers felt they could make part of their curriculum,” says farm manager Rachel Meriwether, “not just a field trip to go and play, but a different classroom setting: the outdoors.”

Lessons at four stations—the nursery, animal houses, a compost pile, and the banks of the Green River—connect to state curricula about everything from ecosystem preservation to herbivore, omnivore, and carnivore diets. Time on the farm is also about getting students to try new foods, chiefly vegetables they might snub. “When you take kids out of their normal setting and put them in this one, suddenly it’s an adventure to try a new thing,” says Meriwether.

Last year, more than 650 third and fourth graders from Buncombe, Henderson, and Transylvania counties participated. And Green River hopes to expand the program, with the possibility of having classes visit to sow seeds and return to harvest their plantings.  

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Photographs by jane izard