Sustainability in Action
At S&S Homestead Farm, middle & high school students experience theory put into in practice on this 50 acre biodynamic farm. The farm, a demonstration site for Washington State University Organic Agriculture Program, has been in existence since 1970 and provides a laboratory for learning the integration of growing vegetables, fruit, and flowers with the production of beef, dairy, pork, lamb, chicken and eggs, as well as producing animal feeds and fertilizers.
As part of the curriculum high school students are introduced to the cycle of growth and renewal and the inter-relationship of plant, animal and humans. Students learn principles of sustainability in biodynamic farming such as pest and disease control being accomplished through place-specific plant and animal immunities developed by breeding and raising all animals on the farm, and by recycling their wastes as compost to grow plants that feed animals and humans.
Henning Sehmsdorf and Elizabeth Simpson offered their farm as an outdoor classroom to start the Farm-to-School program, teaching students to be stewards of the earth as they learned about growing food “from seed to plate.”
Through their work on the farm, students have learned to participate in the entire food process, from healthy soil for planting to food preservation after harvesting. Says Simpson, “Students have changed the way they eat, the way they spend their food dollar and the way they look at the world.”
S&S Homestead Farm is one of just a handful of farms in the U.S. to offer an educational program to the public school, says Semsdorf, who sees the teaching model as a necessary step toward true sustainability. “It’s our responsibility to educate our kids.”