Summerfield is one of only a few Waldorf schools worldwide to have a working farm on the same campus as the school. The farm produces a seasonal bounty of fruits, vegetables and flowers. At the farm, students have the opportunity to learn many basic skills that are rapidly becoming lost in today's industrialized society. By tending soil, turning the compost, planting perennial gardens, harvesting vegetables for soup, caring for farm animals, and pruning and grafting, each student gains a deeper awareness of the natural world.
The younger students "play" on the farm, sowing and harvesting and tending the animals. The third grade curriculum, especially, which concentrates on basic practical aspects of food and shelter, has the students spend a greater amount of time on the farm, where they learn about barnyard structures and livestock practices, as well as actively participating in the life-cycle of one of the staples of our modern diet, wheat, in its metamorphosis from seed to plant to grain to bread. In the upper grades, through high school, students practice plant propagation, study and cultivate healing plants, and learn about nutrition through cooking, drying and processing food.
The school is deeply committed to preserving and maintaining the farm and the attached open space. That commitment to the land was affirmed in 1983 with a legally binding Land Trust requiring the school to protect and nurture the land and the wild life refuge in perpetuity.
“The plants and animals on Earth…cannot be understood in isolation…it is nonsense to seek within the compass needle itself, the reason why it always points to the north…Just as we have to look at the whole Earth when we want to explain how a compass needle behaves, so must we also consult the whole universe when it comes to understanding plants." — R. Steiner, Spiritual Foundations for the Renewal of Agriculture. Lecture 6. June 14, 1924.3
Gardening & Farming Curriculum / Preschool - High School
Preschool: Animal visits, carrot digging, seasonal walking and a snack. One hour each week on the Farm.
Kindergartens: Seasonal rhythms, cider pressing, potato gathering, pumpkin harvesting, animal feeding and visits, egg gathering, snacks, building a fire to cook things on, walking in the corn rows.
First Grade: First Grade garden, thistle digging in the pastures, corn shelling, apple pressing and drying, leaf raking.
Second Grade: Garden work, planting seeds, digging and weeding, social skills in the garden, sawing wood, harvesting beets.
Third Grade: Harvesting onions, potatoes, popcorn, field corn, winter squash and pumpkins, sowing a cover crop, birdhouse building, tree dressing, planting corn, onion, winter squash and pumpkins, sheep shearing.
Fourth Grade: Animal care, cleaning the duck pond and rabbit cages, gathering cowpies from the pasture and manure from the barns and chicken house, plus pruning and mulching the roses
Fifth Grade: Broom-making, animal care, and sketching plants for main lesson Botany block.
Sixth Grade: Broom corn harvest, maintaining compost bins, tool identification and maintenance, double-digging in student gardens, caning raspberries, seed planting, and potting.
Seventh Grade: Potato sorting, building toolboxes for a carpentry project.
Eighth Grade: Harvesting, cooking, nutrition Study, basket-weaving; using natural materials gathered on site.
Ninth Grade: Permaculture gardening, Herbal studies; research and practical application of the use of culinary and medicinal herbs.
Tenth Grade: Permaculture gardening, grafting of Fruit Trees.
Eleventh Grade: Plant cultivation and propagation, greenhouse work.
Twelfth Grade: Sustainable agriculture projects; individually chosen projects that serve the community.
Electives (High School Only): Sustainable Agriculture; farming, harvesting, cooking and preserving.