Farm Field Studies
Farm tours available this summer for camps as well as school groups. Tours can be designed to meet your group’s particular interests and needs.
The Farm Field Studies (FFS) Program deeply connects K-12 Bay Area students to organic farms, food, and the natural world. With their hands and hearts, students engage with farmers, local healthy food, farm animals and the wild while linking their experiences to the CA State Content Standards.
The FFS program began in 2002 and has brought thousands of students, teachers and parents out onto farms. Students from over 60 Bay Area schools have participated in FFS.
Teachers and students both rate the Farm Field Studies Program as excellent.
"The experience these kids are getting out on the farms is ....words can't describe it—thrilling, exciting, life-changing, educational, fun, ...We had a wonderful day! Thank you!!!" —Lisa Hanley (Teacher)
"I had a blast at Gospel Flats Farm where it was so much fun! Everybody was sad when we had to leave the farm—everybody wanted to live there. The boys in my class said that they would give up video games to be there." —Rebecca (4th Grader)
The FFS Program is available to K-12 students from Bay Area schools. Fifty percent of Marin's land-use base is tied to agriculture, yet many Bay Area children have never set foot on a working farm. Our program offers an opportunity for hands-on learning at a local farm or ranch about the natural world, our food supply, nutrition, the local economy, and our rich California history.
About the Farm Field Studies Program
FFS program offers on-farm and in-classroom experiences that are linked to the CA State Content Standards. This gives teachers the opportunity to weave the farm into classroom lessons throughout the year. We offer curriculum aids, including a map of Marin agriculture and visual lesson plans that correlate to the California Department of Education Frameworks for math, science, history-social science, and English-language arts.
We encourage teachers to download some of our lessons or use your own lessons to prepare the students for the farm visit to increase the learning opportunities on the farm. We also encourage teachers to follow up the on-farm experience with additional lessons that use the farm and the lessons learned there as a spring board for deepening learning in your required subject areas. (Click here for Resources for Teachers)
Life lessons on caring for others and the natural world are incorporated into the explorations and gleaning activities on farms. Students learn how the land is cared for and the food gleaned from the fields gives students a way to care for their community by donating the food to the local food bank or their school.
Marin Organic is committed to offering trips that are accessible to all students. Our sliding scale is based on your school’s income level measured by the percentage of your students that qualify for the free and reduced price lunches at your school. If you are an independent school or a summer camp which serves a high percentage of low income students please apply based on the percentage of low income students in your program.
Teachers at low income schools are encouraged to apply for grants to help offset the costs for the Farm Field Studies program. (Click Here to download Funding Resources for Teacher)
If additional financial assistance is needed, please contact Director of Education, Constance Washburn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 415-663-9667 ext 104. We have limited scholarship funds so we encourage teachers to investigate other community resources to help defray the costs of the Farm Field Studies program.
FARM FIELD STUDIES PHOTOS
To see more photos, please visit our Flickr stream.
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How to Apply for the Farm Field Studies Program
Download an application, and follow the instructions for submitting the form:
2012 — 2013 Farm Field Studies Application (PDF)
Once you have applied for a field trip, you will receive a confirmation email with the information on the cost, date, time and farm you will be visiting. Contact email@example.com for specific questions
(Download Teacher Checklist)
- Send check made out to Marin Organic to:
Marin Organic – P.O. Box 962, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956
- Schedule in-classroom visit before the farm visit.
Contact Sandy Dierks at 415-868-0205 or Scott Davidson at 415-663-9667 x101.
- Download parent and chaperone letter.
Distribute to all parents and chaperones.
- Download release forms
No student, parent, or teacher without a release form will be allowed on the farm. The following release forms can be found at www.marinorganic.org\farmfieldstudies.
Click here for Children Release Forms in English & Spanish
Click here for Adult Release Forms
- Introduce farm and food related curriculum and concepts.
Link your classroom work to the experience on the farm. See www.marinorganic.org for resources.
- Call the farmer or tour leader the week before to discuss your class’ particular needs and interests.
- Download directions and contact information on the farm.
*GPS is not reliable in rural West Marin.
- Remind students to wear layers, farm shoes and clothes that can get dirty.
Day of Trip Tasks
- Bring all signed release forms and payments with you. NO person without a release form will be allowed on the farm.
- Review with chaperones / parents the rules of the day.
- Chaperones must stay with the children
- Encourage children to follow the instructions of farmer, educator, and volunteers
- Prevent children from climbing on fences or farm equipment, running in the planted fields, picking crops, or touching animals unless invited to do so
- Remind children and other adults to move low and slow when around farm animals
- Bring your own snacks, lunches and drinks.
We encourage zero waste as much as possible for our trips. Any garbage you generate you will need to take home with you.
- Please arrive at the farm at the agreed upon time, not earlier or later as that disrupts the schedule of the farmer.
- Please follow up the farm tour with discussions and lessons linking the farm experience to classroom activities.
- Please complete the online evaluation survey we will email to you. Your feedback and ideas are important for us to grow and improve the FFS program.
- Please share student work with us. We would like to have examples of art, poems, and writing that is generated by the farm visits.
Farm Field Study Application
Child Release of Liability Form, in English
Child Release of Liability Form, en Espanol
Adult Release of Liability Form for teachers, parents, and chaperones
Parent and Chaperone Letter
Teacher Check List
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Marin Organic Farm Educators
Scott Davidson is passionate about truly sustainable living and holistic learning. With a BS in Plant Ecology from UC Santa Cruz, and a Permaculture Design Certificate from Regenerative Design Institute in Bolinas he has worked as a conservation biologist, wilderness and tracking guide, educator and gardener. Scott continues to creatively cultivate an inherent connection to place by guiding students in their discovery of local organic food and farms.
Scott playfully guides students of all ages with community gleanings, investigations of nature and wildlife, farm ecology and sustainable practices at Star Route Farms, Green Gulch Farm, and Indian Valley Organic Farm. All gleaned food can be donated to your school or to a local community center. Scott is also available for in-classroom presentations before or after your farm visit.
Sandy Dierks has been farming in Bolinas since 1972 and has 28 years of experience teaching in the classroom. She has developed nature and farm curricula and brought thousands of students to her farm over the years. She comes into classrooms for half hour presentations to prepare students for their farm visits.
In-classroom presentations include an introduction to farming in Marin County using a map of the county, information about the farm visit with interactive materials, and “Eating the Rainbow”, the nutrition component with a colorful poster and quilt. Teachers have found this in-classroom introduction to the farm greatly increases the educational value and quality of the on farm experience.
Farm Field Studies Farmers and Farms
The fall is the most abundant time of year on Marin County farms. Come be part of the harvest. Students can glean food from the fields with Marin Organic Educator, Scott Davidson, at Star Route, Green Gulch, or Indian Valley Organic Farm and garden. The food gleaned can be donated to the school or given to the food bank for those most in need in our communities.
Students can visit these farms and experience a variety of hands-on learning activities.
John & Karen Taylor
John and Karen Taylor run a herd of approximately 200 dairy cows on this historic 750-acre ranch. Karen is a sixth-generation Marin dairywoman, and she and John converted their dairy herd to organic in 2006 and now produce quality organic milk for Clover-Stornetta Farms. Karen and John have three children, who they hope represent the 7th generation of dairy ranchers to work and care for this land.
Bianchini Ranch/Bivalve Dairy
Point Reyes Station
Karen and John lead this tour which includes meeting a calf, seeing the milking parlor, tasting Clover milk products and mixing a Total Mixed Ration ( TMR). The ration is made up of silage raised on the ranch mixed with various, grains, wheat, corn, and hay along with vitamins and supplements. Students mix the ration for one cow for one day which is 45lbs of feed.
Click on the title for visual lesson plans on The Farmer as Steward (7.9 MB), Cows and Milk Production (PDF 3.2 MB), and Total Mixed Ration (PDF 2.9 MB) that are appropriate for this farm location.
The Lunny family has been farming and ranching around Drakes Estero for four generations. Today, there are two operations that sustain the family: organic, grass-fed beef cattle and oyster production.
A tour at Drakes Bay Family Farms lead my a member of the family includes a discussion of sustainable agriculture and why eating organic meat is important, a walk through pasture land, a lesson on aquaculture, a hands-on activity stringing oyster shells for hanging in the bay, and a chance to taste the oysters of Drakes Estero.
Click on the title for a visual lesson plans on The Farmer as Steward (7.9 MB), Beef (4 MB), and Oysters (PDF 2.8 MB), that are appropriate for this farm location.
In 1982, Don Murch and Sarah Hake moved onto the last farm on the Pine Gulch Creek delta, to an area once known as the Gospel Flat for the four churches that previously existed there. They reclaimed the fields from a decade of trash buildup. Don and son Mickey farm in a variety of styles, and raise organic vegetables and flowers. The farm is increasingly dedicated to its role in community not only as a provider of local vegetables, but inspiration towards handmade food through mobile kitchen workshops, after-school education, and school tours.
Mickey is a charismatic young farmer and educator who takes the students to visit the animals, pick vegetables, and investigate the pond. There are often goats, turkeys, pigs, and chickens at the farm along with the rows and rows of wonderful vegetables. He has students tasting fresh veggies, exploring for earthworms, and feeding the animals. Students have said they would give up video games if they could stay at the farm with Mickey.
Click on the titles for visual lesson plans on the The Farmer as Steward (7.9 MB), Basic Nutrient Cycle (PDF 3.3 MB), Soil Nutrient Cycle (PDF 2.8 MB), Parts of a Plant (PDF 2.9 MB), Chicken Life Cycle (PDF 2.5 MB) and Coho Salmon Life Cycle (PDF 3.6 MB) that are appropriate for this farm location.
Green Gulch Farm is a five-acre agricultural oasis located at the Green Dragon Temple in Muir Beach. Farmed organically since 1972 and certified organic since 1985, this carefully-tended land produces an abundance of vegetables, lettuces, potatoes, chard and green garlic. All of the kitchen scraps from the practice center, plus much of those from Greens Restaurant, return to the farm and are made into compost, where they will be reborn as next year's crop.
Scott guides students from the Muir Beach wetlands to the back gate of the farm, exploring the wild and tended elements of this incredible park-to-farm transect. We often discuss the power of compost, on-site resources, the salmon run in Green Gulch Creek, and the rows of diverse greens growing there. Green Gulch almost always provides gleaning opportunities, all foods of which are given to those who most need it in the community.
Click on the titles for visual lesson plans on the The Farmer as Steward (7.9 MB), Basic Nutrient Cycle (PDF 3.3 MB), Soil Nutrient Cycle (PDF 2.8 MB), Parts of a Plant (PDF 2.9 MB), and Pond Life (PDF 4.2 MB) that are appropriate for this farm location.
In 2006, three community partners, Conservation Corps North Bay, College of Marin, and UC Cooperative Extension – Marin, embarked on a landmark project to establish the Indian Valley Organic Farm & Garden – a 5.8 acre educational organic farm nestled against protected open space at College of Marin's Indian Valley Campus.
This organic farm showcases innovative sustainable agricultural and living practices, growing over 100 varieties of vegetables, fruits, flowers, and herbs. The farm hosts several honeybee hives, practices integrated pest management, crop rotation and cover cropping to improve soil health, implements roof-top rainwater harvesting, and uses solar energy to provide irrigation to the fruit orchard.
Scott often leads elementary students at Indian Valley because of its small size and incredible diversity, providing many kid-sized projects to engage. We always work the compost piles, weed some and glean some too. There’s a project for every season, from transplanting sunflower seedlings and treasure hunting for beneficial insects, to learning the patterns of plants while selectively weeding the beds.
Click on the titles for visual lesson plans on the The Farmer as Steward (7.9 MB), Basic Nutrient Cycle (PDF 3.3 MB), Soil Nutrient Cycle (PDF 2.8 MB), Parts of a Plant (PDF 2.9 MB), that are appropriate for this farm location.
Dennis and Sandy grow and sell organic row crops. They work hard to build healthy soil in order to grow vegetables and greens of the highest possible nutritional value. The farm is located along Pine Gulch Creek, an important tributary for wild Coho salmon. The Dierks have been farming organically since 1972 and due in part to their water conservation efforts and soil management techniques, the numbers of returning salmon keep increasing every year. The Dierks' farm was the first in California to be certified as "Salmon Safe".
Sandy and Dennis lead the tour which normally starts with a lecture from Dennis near the enormous compost pile as he explains the soil nutrient cycle. Students will visit the greenhouse to plant seeds and discuss the plant life cycle, followed by a lesson on the restoration of salmon-spawning habitat in adjacent Pine Gulch Creek, and a visit to the creek to capture and study various life forms. Other seasonal, hands-on activities might include planting beds or harvesting fruits or vegetables.
Click on the titles for visual lesson plans on the The Farmer as Steward (7.9 MB), Bugs (7.4 MB), Basic Nutrient Cycle (PDF 3.3 MB), Soil Nutrient Cycle (PDF 2.8 MB), Parts of a Plant (PDF 2.9 MB), and Coho Salmon Life Cycle (PDF 3.6 MB) that are appropriate for this farm location.
Star Route Farms, operates the oldest continuously certified organic farm in California and now produces some of the Bay Area's most sought after leafy greens, herbs, edible flowers, legumes and tender seasonal vegetables. Farmer Warren Weber says that from the beginning "we have really been in business for the people who consume our products, rather than in business for the yield."
Scott guides students through Star Route’s approach to sustainable farming, in particular soil building, biodiversity, water management and gleanings. Star Route is surrounded by incredible wildlands and is host to many gleanings throughout the year, all foods of which are given to those who most need it in the community. At Star Route Farms, your students become part of the solution with their own two hands!
Click on the titles for visual lesson plans on the The Farmer as Steward (7.9 MB), Basic Nutrient Cycle (PDF 3.3 MB), Soil Nutrient Cycle (PDF 2.8 MB), Parts of a Plant (PDF 2.9 MB), and Coho Salmon Life Cycle (PDF 3.6 MB) that are appropriate for this farm location.
The Tresch family has been in the California dairy business since Joe Tresch’s family emigrated from Switzerland to California in the 1870s. The dairy at Two Rock has been worked by four generations of the Tresch family, and was certified organic in 1996. All the milk goes to the Straus Family Creamery in Marshall, where it is used for the Straus product line of milk, cream, butter, and yogurt.
Kathy Tresch a passionate educator leads this tour and students will learn the farm-to-market process of an organic dairy, bottle-feed a calf, visit the milking barn, and have the chance to churn and taste butter. During a walk out to the heirloom apple orchard students pass through a vibrant riparian habit with frogs, turtles, fish and many birds. At the orchard and garden students may be able to pick apples or plant native shrubs and they will learn the important role farms play in preserving the watershed and wildlife habitat.
Click on the title for visual lesson plans on The Farmer as Steward (7.9 MB), Bugs (7.4 MB), Cows and Milk Production (PDF 3.2 MB), Chicken Life Cycle (PDF 2.5 MB), Parts of a Plant (PDF 2.9 MB), and Pond Life (PDF 4.2 MB) that are appropriate for this farm location.
Mimi Luebermann & Arann Harris
Available for Spring tours only. Windrush Farm is an old-fashioned diversified farm where Mimi raises much of her food, including goats, chickens, and vegetables. Mimi also raises sheep, alpaca, and llamas for their wool, which she cleans and cards, then spins into yarn, which she dyes. The farm also has a pond with turtles, frogs, toads, many varieties of water bugs, and dragon flies which students love to explore.
Mimi and her son Arann Harris lead the tours and they educate through a variety of activities including butter making, wool spinning, animal feeding, and goat milking. Arann entertains all with his wonderful songs and guitar playing. At the pond students can capture and release tadpoles and small frogs. Pond kits will be provided for study of other water creatures. The FFS docents will also conduct a lesson on the food and fiber chains; from grinding wheat for flour and from wool to sweater.
Click on the titles for visual lesson plans on The Farmer as Steward (7.9 MB), Bugs (7.4 MB), Sheep (PDF 3.1 MB), Chicken Life Cycle (PDF 2.5 MB), Grains (PDF 3 MB), and Pond Life (PDF 4.2 MB) that are appropriate for this farm location.
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Resources for Teachers and Parents
Funding Resources for Teachers
VISUAL LESSON PLANS AND CURRICULUM:
• Basic Nutrient Cycle (PDF 3.3 MB)
• Beef Life Cycle (PDF 4 MB)
• Bugs (PDF 7.4 MB)
• Chicken Life Cycle (PDF 2.5 MV)
• Coho Salmon Life Cycle (PDF 3.6 MB)
• Cows and Milk Production (PDF 3.2)
• Farmer as Steward (PDF 7.9 MB)
• Grains (PDF 3 MB)
• Eat the Rainbow (PDF 10.8 MB)
• Oysters (PDF 2.8 MB)
• Parts of a Plant (PDF 2.9 MB)
• Pond Life (PDF 4.2 MB)
• Sheep (PDF 3.1 MB)
• Soil Nutrient Cycle (PDF 2.8 MB)
• Total Mixed Ration (PDF 2.9 MB)
CALIFORNIA CONTENT STANDARDS WITH LINKS TO FARM ACTIVITIES:
• Kindergarten (PDF 36 KB)
• Grade One (PDF 37 KB)
• Grade Two (PDF 37 KB)
• Grade Three (PDF 36 KB)
• Grade Four (PDF 37 KB)
• Grade Five (PDF 44 KB)
• Grade Six (PDF 52 KB)
FOOD, FIBER, AND FARM ACTIVITIES FOR CHILDREN AND ADULTS:
Make Butter at Home for the Holidays with your Children (PDF 359 KB)
Make a Plant
Parts Taco (PDF 572 KB)
HEALTH CONTENT STANDARDS:
Health Education Content Standards for California Schools (60 KB)
MARIN AGRICULTURE INFORMATION
Growninmarin.org the website of the University of California Cooperative Extension, has extensive resources for educators, including Food For Thought: Agricultural Activities for Growing Minds, a classroom activity guide for grades 3-6.
Amazing BUT TRUE fact sheet (PDF 1.1 MB)
Download a Marin County Farms and Ranches Map (PDF 2.7 MB)
WHY I TEACH ABOUT FARMING AND AGRICULTURE
Lisa Hanley, Loma Verde Elementary School, Novato, CA
“What is that?” asked the curious third grader. “That is a green bean,” replied the farmer. “No, that can’t be a green bean because it didn’t come out of a can!” insisted the misinformed student.
This was one A-Ha moment for me as an educator; students need to learn about the importance of healthy food. I have been teaching about agriculture for the past 10 years. I was inspired by the Teacher’s Summer Agricultural Institute put on by MALT. I was enthralled with West Marin, meeting dedicated farmers, and learning how agriculture is a critical part of our communities. During that inspiring summer I was allowed the time to plan looking at state science and social studies standards. I noticed that a farm field trip would meet many of the standards expected at my grade level. Over the years I have incorporated more reading and writing to develop project-based learning units. I have an extensive library of farming/ag books used in fiction and non-fiction reading. Students write narrative and expository text as well as poetry based on projects we are exploring. We have developed a class garden that we use for bi-monthly cooking classes. Because of this work, students are more aware of where their food comes from, how farmers create healthy habitats for plants and animals and provide healthy products for healthy communities. Students learn they are stewards of the land also and each of us has a responsibility to care for our planet.
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