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Child-sized backyard farming

Posted by on Nov 19, 2013 in Earth School, Featured | 0 comments


Editor’s note:

An idea like “backyard farming” expands the Earth School concept so that it’s less reliant on access to a farm environment. In this post, Barbara Sarbin shares some ideas she tried to get kids more connected with nature.

—Hershel Sarbin, Editor

One Earth School practice is to teach backyard farming in a child-size fashion that incorporates recycled materials.  In a farm-based education circumstance, children don’t need to farm in straight lines in large open fields, any more than they need to sit or walk in straight lines.  So a great idea is to find small, accessible, easy ways to farm in one’s one backyard or schoolyard that don’t require long hot days of weeding and watering.

This spring…


We used a “pop-up” greenhouse ( to teach about solar power while growing our own seedlings inside of reused plastic containers.


We employed “woolly pockets” made from recycled plastic bottles ( to grow lettuces and edible flowers for salads.


We reused hanging pots for peas whose vines love to creep up the hangers; we propped up an old, rusty wheelbarrow with holes in it to make a garden of hardy greens.


We cultivated edible perennials like strawberries in a small patch of ground, sheet-mulched by the children with newspaper and cardboard.

The success of small-scale gardening is in the eyes of the students: they did it themselves, from beginning to end.  They can forage as often as they choose, without worrying about stepping by accident on some busy farmer’s precious produce that is depended upon for income.  They learn the entire process and can duplicate it at home.  I can’t tell you how many parents and teachers are awed by the simplicity of such a project.  No raised beds required.

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