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Farm Programming Provides Students with Numerous Hands-on Lessons at Every Level

Since Director of Educational Programming Steve Wall and Farm Site Manager Ewan Macaulay were appointed to their new roles at Weddington Farm in the spring of 2023, they, along with the creativity and imagination of our talented faculty, staff, and parent community, have provided students with numerous hands-on lessons in agricultural education, ecology, biology, environmental science, and the arts.

To date, more than 50 different field trips across all grade levels and divisions have taken place, such as:

  • 22 seniors in an Entrepreneurship course used the farm as their learning laboratory this year. After visiting the site and experiencing the land firsthand, they collaborated in teams over the course of a semester to extensively research future possibilities through an entrepreneurial and business lens. Their ideas included a high- and low-ropes course, sports  complex, summer camp, and special  events venue—all of which were thoughtfully and enthusiastically presented to an audience of school administrators, faculty, and guests at a culminating Shark Tank style activity. 
  • In October, eighth-grade students took the classroom outdoors for some inquiry-based learning that ties to the crop lab, water-quality sampling, and tree surveys conducted for many years on Bissell Campus. Each student participated in three of six rotations designed to enhance their classroom learning about the natural world and sustainability. The rotations included: 
    • Harvesting and packing crops with our onsite farmer,
    • Testing surface water quality with eighth-grade science teacher Sarah Klingler,
    • Surveying tree populations with eighth-grade science teacher Simon Keilty,
    • Building birdhouses for the property with Rockler Woodworking,
    • Conducting a bird walk survey with retired Upper School AP Psychology teacher Tony Lombardino, and
    • Learning about beekeeping and mushroom farming with Queen City Bee and Urban Gourmet Farms.
  • Lower School students have used the farm in a variety of ways to make connections across our school programs. Fourth graders engaged in community building activities like taking a hayride throughout the property and roasting s’mores, along with engaging in hands-on science and art classes—they planted in the gardens and painted birdhouses that the fifth- and eighth-  graders built to adorn the property. Other activities have included students  harvesting pumpkins to decorate as their favorite book characters, practicing the scientific method through bird walks, and creating leaf print art, a nature-inspired and eco-friendly art form. 
  • The Lower School partnered with the Parents’ Association and Upper School Interact Club to bring the entire Lower School out to the farm for an annual Holiday Farm Fest, a festive day that included the PE department’s traditional Reindeer Run on the trails and service learning opportunities benefiting Aldersgate and Baby Bundles; 
  • Students in Honors Chemistry classes participated in blacksmithing through a partnership with the Penland School of Craft to explore metallurgy.
  • Produce that is grown and harvested by our students is served in the school dining halls;
  • The 2024 All-School Celebration and Auction included a farm-to-table private dinner experience and a parent-child fly fishing experience.
Farm activities

In the coming months we will pilot two, four-week summer camps beginning in June; and next year, School in the Woods for our fifth-grade students will take place at Weddington Farm.

The goal is to help Weddington Farm become an extension of the Country Day classroom, and to focus on wellness, leadership, innovation, agriculture, and community.