Before holding a large school event, I always feel a little nervous. Like an anxious hostess, I want to make sure everyone has a great time! As some weather moved in earlier this week, I held my breath. On February 4th, we planned a field trip with the 21st Century After-school program. Jr high and high school students were going to visit The Pepperfield Project in Decorah. Founded by David Cavagnaro, the non-profit learning center and farm teaches the art and necessity of seed saving and sustainable eating. Since its inception, The Pepperfield Project has graciously donated seeds to our school gardens. I could think of no better way for students to connect with their food than visiting the source of the seeds they had planted.
We had eight students sign up! This was more than I had ever anticiapted. Would students find the trip interesting? Would the staff find it useful? Would the weather hold off so we could make it to the farm? Would our bus get stuck on the rural, windy back roads? As is often the case, all my worrying was for nothing! The students LOVED the afternoon we spent with David! They were treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of The Pepperfield Project. We covered nearly every aspect of the production. Students saw the seed saving room, where over two hundred varieties of plants are saved! They saw the many storage areas, from the root cellar, canning room, to a room holding the large squash used for animal food.
Once upstairs, we were able to save seed from heritage varieties of corn and sample apple juice made from twelve different kinds of apples! One of their favorite moments was seeing David’s impressive bug collection, with butterflies, giants grasshoppers, and beetles! I watched as students happily asked questions and snapped photos of the many wonders in the house. From sea turtle skulls to dwarf citrus plants, David’s place has it all! The students were attentive and curious, asking many questions along the way. David was a gracious host, clearly at ease and enjoying the good energy from students. He invited us back anytime! I would love to take David up on the offer. In spring or summer, we hope to visit The Pepperfield Project again, so students can witness the gardens in full swing. I know there are some goats and chickens who would be happy to see us! And dogs too.