MAC Newsletter

Fall Greening the School Conference on November 9
Annual Winter Conference

SUMMER EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES WITH MAC

Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom offers a number of terrific opportunities to connect classroom learning to the rich diversity of agriculture across the state. From the history of our cities and towns to the food we eat, agriculture is all around us every day. This summer explore Massachusetts agriculture while you gain activities and ideas for your classroom connected to the curriculum standards. We hope to see you at one of our summer educational programs.

Summer Workshops on the Farm: Spend an educational summer with MAC on farms across the state, learning about agriculture and connections to the classroom. Since 1996, MAC has offered more than 240 workshops on the farms bringing first-hand agricultural experiences to more than 3,200 educators. Eight additional farm workshops will be held this summer during July. Each workshop is unique and will provide an in-depth educational overview of one aspect of agriculture with related hands-on activities to help teachers take agriculture back to their own classrooms. It will also include a farm tour and the opportunity to meet the farmer and learn about the work that goes on at that farm. Ten professional development points are available with each workshop, after conducting a related classroom activity. Read More...

Summer Graduate Course: During the Summer of 2014, MAC will offer our 9th Annual Summer Graduate Course in collaboration with Fitchburg State University. The three-credit course will meet Tuesday, July 1 and Wednesday, August 7 at the Brigham Hill Community Farm in North Grafton from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Each participant must attend both sessions and also participate in six additional workshops during the summer, selected from eight farm workshops and our summer gardening conference. Participants will also keep a journal of their agricultural journey, take a quiz and develop three lessons plans, one of which they will present to their peers on August 7. The fee for this eight day course is $500.Read More ...

School Gardening Summer Conference: Our second Annual Summer Conference will be held on Tuesday, August 5th from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough. Each workshop will be taught by a school garden educator and will offer connections from the classroom to the school garden. Four workshops will run concurrently throughout the day. There will also be the opportunity to harvest and prepare lunch from the school garden. 10 Pdp’s are available with a related classroom activity. Read More ...

Teachers experience agriculture first hand at our educational workshops on the farm and conferences. They are a terrific opportunity to learn from farmers as well as other educators who are bringing agriculture into the classroom and school garden.

 

PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE

Farmers, ranchers and growers have often spent time explaining the wonders, joys, frustrations and anguish of working with the soil to those whose livelihood is not based in agriculture. When Agriculture in the Classroom was established in the early 1980s, the plan was to provide examples from agriculture that could be used in the classroom. Various types of programs were developed in each state, attracting the best and the brightest of teachers by providing these educators with curriculum, books, games and knowledge of agricultural practices. The aim of all programs, then and now, was to increase agricultural literacy.

In the early days, most state programs began by developing materials for grades 4 to 6. Back then, before subject specialization, just one teacher was the main contact for each class. Later, it was realized that younger children could gain immense value from agricultural lessons, and the emphasis of many educational non-profit programs turned to Grades K-3 and eventually Pre-K. As Agriculture in the Classroom programs became more sophisticated, we tackled high school lessons and resources. The Envirothon is a competition among high school student. The 2014 topic is “Sustainable Agriculture”. Now many state programs have contact with college courses that are training teachers.

Our Massachusetts state program provides multiple resources to assist teachers who are looking to enrich their classroom experience using agricultural examples. We offer workshops on the farm, a Summer Graduate course, three annual conferences, mini-grants, a newsletter with educational content, teacher awards, the Massachusetts Agriculture calendar and numerous on-line resources such as lessons and school gardening support. Teachers who have participated in these programs have emerged as peer leaders. Farmers have offered facilities and spent time with interested teachers. Representatives from agriculture and education have provided time, talent and treasure. And, of course, our volunteer Board has given much guidance and time.

Today a garden on school property and a few chickens in the backyard are popular pursuits and I trust that efforts to understand the origins of our food will continue to be popular. This is a great time for young agriculturalists who are looking for ways to make their family businesses a part of their community to investigate connections with educators and consider imparting knowledge of farming to their neighbors and to the customers who purchase their products.

Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom is considering a workshop for young farmers and growers in August. If you are interested, I would love to hear from you.

Marjorie Cooper, President

WHO GREW MY SOUP? & OTHER RESOURCES FROM MAC

MAC is happy to announce that, through a special printing by National Agriculture in the Classroom, we will be selling copies of “Who Grew My Soup?” by Tom Darbyshire as a fund-raiser to support our educational programs. It tells the story of young Phineas Quinn and his questions about the vegetable soup his mom serves for lunch. Phin declares he won’t slurp a single spoonful until he knows the answer to such questions as “Who grew these carrots? Who grew these tomatoes?”

This previously unavailable book is being offered in a soft-cover edition, and can be purchased from MAC for $15 with an additional $3 for shipping and handling. This is a great way to support MAC and also to add a useful resource to your classroom, school library or local library. Send to MAC at P.O. Box 345, Seekonk, MA 02771

MAC also offers three printed manuals for sale. Purchase School Gardens & Their Community Partnership Manual for $10.
Our Farm Field Trip Manual is $12, and Eight Lessons about Agriculture & the Environment Manual is $5.

AGRISCIENCE EXCELLENCE AWARD 2014

The Board of Directors of MAC along with the Massachusetts Trustees of Eastern States Exposition are pleased to announce that our 2014 winner of the AgriScience Excellence Award is Anna Cynar, Life Science teacher (Biology, Ecology and Anatomy) at North Central Charter Essential School in Fitchburg. This award is given to a teacher who has done at outstanding job of bringing agriculture to the classroom. The prize is accompanied by a plaque, $200 classroom grant and a September trip to The Big E for teacher and his/her students.

Anna took our 2014 Summer Graduate Course, where we were all impressed with her dedication to her students. In addition to the course, she spent last summer and this school year working with a committee to plan the landscape and garden spaces to support a new building that will house the school.

Anna Cynar from North Central Charter Essential School in Fitchburg (center) was presented with the award at our Winter Conference by Susan Lavoie, Vice President of Eastern States (left) and Marjorie Cooper, President of MAC (right).

Anna took our 2014 Summer Graduate Course, where we were all impressed with her dedication to her students. In addition to the course, she spent the summer working with a committee to plan the landscape and garden spaces to support a new building that will house the school.

There are a lot of agricultural based projects in the planning phase. Biology students propagated plants and Ecology students presented to administrators about “how we can design with Ecology in mind” in our future building. Students interviewed farmers, scientists, apiarists and non-profits, involved in sustainable agriculture design to form the landscape of where the school is moving next year. After the move, students will work to make some of those recommendations a reality. In the past, Anna worked with garden initiatives to help organizations plan, build, grow, and eat from raised bed gardens and through AmeriCorps she worked with high school students growing vegetables and caring for chickens. Congratulations, Anna!

MAC MINI-GRANTS

Last spring, the MAC mini-grant committee awarded $700 to Danielle Crescione and the Northeast Center for Youth & Families Program at Tri-County Schools in Easthampton. A new backyard chicken program will teach 115 emotionally/behaviorally challenged students awareness of the animal industry issues while providing nutritious food for the cafeteria. Students will hatch the chicks, build the barnyard and pen and discover educational options and careers in agriculture. Funds provided the chickens, feed, building materials and educational resources.

Any Massachusetts teacher or school can apply for a mini-grant to support their agriculture in the classroom efforts. Each year MAC awards mini-grants, usually in the amount of $300 to $500, to teachers for agricultural education projects. Proposals are due the first of April, September and November. To receive a copy of our mini-grant guidelines, visit our website or send a letter to MAC. Click here to read more about our mini-grants, review guidelines or read about past winners.

 

ANAEROBIC DIGESTION

By Christopher Szkutak,
MAC Technical Associate & Massachusetts State Grange Legislative Director.

An excellent opportunity to bring agriculture into your science classroom is to consider the topic of anaerobic digestion. Anaerobic digestion is the process by which biodegradable materials are broken down in the absence of the oxygen. The result of this reaction is a biogas that can be used to continue the digestion process or can be converted into fuel for electricity.

The use of these digesters, along with combined heat and power, to reduce organic waste and generate renewable energy is common in Europe and on the rise in the United States. Here in Massachusetts, farmers are exploring the possibilities of using anaerobic digestion to reduce waste and produce energy. But what is the process that takes manure and food products and produces fuel? How can this fuel be useful to the environment? Most importantly, how can you bring this into your classroom? We will answer these questions and more as we explore anaerobic digestion.

What is Anaerobic Digestion?

Anaerobic digestion is a biochemical reaction that occurs in multiple steps initiated by microorganisms that do not need a significant amount of oxygen to survive, if any. What these microorganisms do need is food, which farmers provide through manure and food wastes. The digester is heated to a temperature between 95 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This allows the microorganism to thrive and grow. The process of anaerobic digestion can be broken down into 4 phases: Hydrolysis, Fermentation, Acetogenesis and Methanogenesis.

Hydrolysis: Organic matter is decomposed into simple molecules that dissolve in water. Chemical bonds between the substances are broken.

Fermentation (Acidogenesis): During this second phase enzymes, bacteria, yeasts, or molds break down carbohydrates in the absence of oxygen.

Acetogenesis: Acetogenic bacteria change the products left after fermentation into carbon dioxide and hydrogen in the third phase.

Methanogenesis: In the final phase methanogenic bacteria convert the carbon dioxide and hydrogen into methane gas which can be funneled off for other uses.

A simplified chemical equation for this process is as follows:
C6H12O6 --> 3CO2 + 3CH4

Digestion takes approximately 3 to 4 weeks and the quantity of methane gas produced and the speed with which it is produced is dependent on the temperature within the vessel and the amount of organic material that is fed into the digester. The organic materials that are not converted into biogas, called the digestate, are rich in nutrients and can be used as a fertilizer or composted. The biogas can be reused in the digester to help regulate temperature and create greater self-sustainability. Alternatively, the biogas could be used to power electric generators or converted to compressed natural gas and be used to fuel farm equipment and other vehicles.

History of Anaerobic Digestion

The use of anaerobic digesters for energy production may be new, but the idea that waste could be used for energy is not. This possibility gained attention in 1808, when Sir Humphry Davy proved that methane was present in the gases produced by cattle manure. The first anaerobic digester was built in 1859 in a leper colony in Bombay, India. In 1895, a sewage treatment system was used to generate biogas to fuel the street lamps in Exeter, England. Later in the 1930s, more manure and agricultural waste were utilized to generate methane.

 

The first patent for a digester was issued in Germany in 1907. Engineer Karl Imhoff created a system for waste water treatment that allowed for a slow digestion process, typically 6 to 9 months. Digestion occurred in a two chambered cone. The outer cone allowed the sewage materials to separate with the sludge sliding into the lower chamber for digestion.

Since the 1940s, digesters have been used in Massachusetts wastewater treatment plants to reduce solids that would otherwise be sent to landfills or incinerated. One of the first farms to utilize this technology was Jordan Dairy Farms in Rutland, MA.

In 2010, Jordan Dairy Farms joined four other Massachusetts farms to form AGreen Energy, LLC, this partnership allowed the farmers to work together to establish more sustainable waste removal practices. Each of the five farms will build a digester, with Jordan’s building the first one in the group. According to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, the Jordan facility takes in 9,125 wet tons of manure and 16,425 tons of source-separated organics per year. The system has a capacity of 300 kilowatts and is estimated to generate 2.24 million kWh of electricity per year, enough to power the farm and 300 homes. One cow at Jordan Dairy Farms produces slightly more electricity than is needed to power one average home.

ANAEROBIC DIGESTERS ON MASSACHUSETTS DAIRY FARMS

Massachusetts is on the cutting edge of finding ways to reduce our food waste carbon footprint. There has been significant investment within the state for the building of digesters, as well as a heavy push from the legislature for companies to reduce their food waste in landfills. Starting in July of 2014, large companies will no longer be able to send organic food waste to landfills. Instead, they will have to find alternative options such as commercial composting or sending these materials to local farms for use as animal feed or using their food waste to help power one of the states anaerobic digesters.

These efforts will help to combat an increasingly problematic issue for the environment. Decaying food waste produces methane, a greenhouse gas that has negative effects on the environment. Massachusetts is leading the charge for more regulation on wastes but also solutions that will help to lessen the effect on the environment, as well as create jobs and income for Massachusetts farmers and green industry.

Jordan Dairy Farms (Rutland): One of the first farms to utilize an anaerobic digester was Jordan Dairy Farms in Rutland, MA starting in 2011. It is estimated that in one day the digester offsets 5,500 pounds of CO2 emissions and produces enough electricity to power the average home for 134 days.

Pine Island Farm (Sheffield): A family-owned and operated dairy farm in Berkshire County, Pine Island Farm spans 1,300 acres of cropland, and houses approximately 1,000 head of Holstein cattle. In November 2011, Pine Island Farm began using the manure to produce energy to cover all the electricity needed to run the farm, heat the water, and run the digester, while also allowing the farm to sell energy back to the grid. The feedstock for the digester is mostly manure, but is also partly excess whey from regional producers. View images of the Digester at Pine Island Farm in Sheffield at http://blog.mass.gov/wp-content/uploads/legacy-images/energy/6a0133ec786504970b0147e17ac133970b-pi.jpg.

Barstow’s Long View Farm (Hadley): Barstow’s Longview Farm, partnered with Quasar Energy Group and other investors to form AGreen Energy, LLC. The anaerobic digester has been operational on the site since December 2013.
Anaerobic Digester at Jordan Dairy Farms in Rutland, Massachusetts

TYPES OF ANAEROBIC DIGESTERS

There are many different kinds of anaerobic digesters, below are descriptions of the three most common types.

Covered anaerobic lagoon: An anaerobic lagoon is sealed with a flexible cover, and the methane is recovered and piped to the combustion device. Some systems use a single cell for combined digestion and storage. This type of digester is not heated and thus requires a warm climate to be truly effective. Lagoon digesters are less suited for cooler climates because the digestion process is not consistent thus increasing the smell and reducing the quality of the gas that is produced.

Covered Anaerobic Lagoon model diagram (left) and working system (right).

Plug flow digester: A plug flow digester has a long, narrow concrete tank with a rigid or flexible cover. The tank is built partially or fully below grade to limit the demand for supplemental heat. As there is no agitation within the vessel, plug flow digesters are used only at dairy operations that collect manure by scraping.

Plug Flow Digester model diagram (left) and working system (right).

Complete Mix Digester: A complete mix digester is an enclosed, heated tank with a mechanical, hydraulic, or gas mixing system. The model is insulated to keep a consistent high temperature. Complete mix digesters work best when there is some dilution of the excreted manure with water. Most frequently the biogas produced in this model is reused to maintain the temperature for a constant digestion process.

Complete Mix Anaerobic Digester model diagram (left) above and working system (right).

Common digester misconceptions include that anaerobic digestion and the resulting biogas production will reduce the quantity of manure and the amount of nutrients that remain for utilization or disposal. On an average, only 4% of the material is converted to biogas. The remaining 96% leaves the digester as a stable nutrient-rich, weed-seed free, reduced or pathogen free and nearly odorless effluent.

All anaerobic digestion model and system images are courtesy of AgStar, an EPA partnership program. They can be found at http://www.epa.gov/agstar/anaerobic/ad101/anaerobic-digesters.html.

WHY ANAEROBIC DIGESTION?

The repurposing of manure and food wastes into fuel has benefits for the environment and for farmers. The first advantage of anaerobic digestion is that the process converts waste products that may have ended up in landfills or as water pollutants into a useful alternative. This is helpful to the farmer as well, as this biogas can be reused in the farm to continue running the digester.

The methane that is found in manure, if left to natural processes, will escape into the atmosphere Alternatively, if there is excess it can be sold back to energy companies. This reduces the need for fossil fuels while also creating extra income to support the farm.

Another advantage for the farmer, as well the environment, is the use of the residual solids for fertilizer. This reduces the need for chemical fertilizers, decreasing the probability of runoff getting into the water supply while reducing soil erosion. The solids can also be made into products that can be sold to consumers, such as potting soil and biodegradable planting pots.

Methane digesters have been used in Europe for many years, but is increasing in popularity in the United States. Small scale digesters are being used in developing countries to provide sustainable fuel sources for cooking and heating. In non-agricultural applications, the most common usage of anaerobic digestion has been in sewage treatment to help reduce waste and sludge in the environment.

Integrating Anaerobic Digestion in the Classroom: Build your Own Biogas Generator

In this activity students design and construct a biogas generator from household materials, collect the gas produced over a number of weeks and test it. Biogas generators can be constructed from materials such as soda bottles, and the gas burnt using a Bunsen burner. A list of possible materials is provided below.

• Water cooler bottle or soda bottles
• Rubber tubing
• Clamps
• Measuring cylinder
• Tape
• Plastic tubes
• Mylar/foil balloon (rubber balloons are porous and allow the gas to escape)
• A variety of organic matter such as grass clippings, leaves, waste fruit and vegetables, tea bags
• Bunsen burner and heatproof mat

Designing and constructing a biogas generator makes an ideal project for students to express their creativity and problem-solving skills. Ideally students should design their own system, but if time does not allow, the system above could be used. It can take up to six weeks to produce enough biogas to burn. This could be a great science fair project!

First of all introduce the background to biogas production and explain the objective. Provide students with a schematic of an actual biogas generator and discuss the function of parts of the generator. You may want to show contrasting examples of biogas generators such as those used in developing countries for cooking and those used to generate electricity in power stations. Provide a list of organic material available for use in generating biogas and discuss the pros and cons before beginning construction of the generator. If students are designing their own biogas generator you will need to check their plans and ensure they have considered and can demonstrate how they will undertake the investigation safety.

Bokashi Composting: A New Idea in Composting

At our April 26 Day of Garden Skills Workshops and Demonstrations for the School Garden, Paul Pieri, science teacher at the Wheeler School in Providence, introduced us to a new method of composting in which all food waste can be composted together. This includes all non-plant based foods. Yes, that means cheeses and meats can go together with all your other food scraps! Paul is experimenting in his classroom with this new method of composting to test its effectiveness and explore the possibility of reducing waste at his school. This method is known as Bokashi composting.

Bokashi means “Fermented matter” in Japanese and has been practiced by farmers in Japan for centuries. Only recently has Bokashi made it’s way to the U.S. As the name implies, this method of composting uses natural fermentation to reduce waste and produce useful compost. While traditional composting uses heat and soil microbes to break down plant matter, Bokashi composting uses anaerobic microbes to break down food scrapes. In order to do this micro-organisms are introduced to the food materials in bran to help begin the fermentation process. Bokashi composting can be done inside or outside as there is very little odor produced in the process.

(From Time to Recycle at http://www.timetorecycle.com/compost/bokashi.asp)

 

ANAEROBIC DIGESTION RESOURCES

Massachusetts Dept. of Agricultural Resources
www.mass.gov/agr

Massachusetts Dairy Promotion Board
www.massdairy.com/stewards.html

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
www.mass.gov/dep/

Environmental Protection Agency
www.epa.gov/agstar/anaerobic/index.html

Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/massdep/service/energy/program/clean-energy-results-studies-and-sucessess.html

Jordan Dairy Farms
http://jordandairyfarms.com/digester/

 

Pennsylvania State Extension
http://extension.psu.edu/natural-resources/energy/waste-to-energy/resources/biogas

Elementary Dairy Environment Video

(basic explanation of digestion for younger children) http://www.discoverdairy.com/tl_files/videos/environment.html

Middle Dairy Environment Video
www.discoverydairy.com/tl_files/videos/dairyenvironment.html

School Biogas Kits
www.build-a-biogas-plant.com/School-Biogas-Kits.html

Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Digestion
http://water.me.vccs.edu/courses/ENV149/lesson4.htm

California Energy Commission
www.energy.ca.gov/biomass/anaerobic.html

 

National Non Food Crops Centre
http://www.nnfcc.co.uk/publications/nnfcc-renewable-fuels-and-energy-factsheet-anaerobic-digestion

 

A History of Anaerobic Digestion
http://extension.psu.edu/natural-resources/energy/waste-to-energy/resources/biogas/links/history-of-anaerobic-digestion/a-short-history-of-anaerobic-digestion

Bokashi Composting - Time to Recycle
www.timetorecycle.com/compost/bokashi.asp

Barstow’s Long View Farm (Hadley)
www.barstowslongviewfarm.com

Pine Island Farm (Sheffield)
http://blog.mass.gov/wp-content/uploads/legacy-images/energy/6a0133ec786504970b0147e17ac133970b-pi.jpg

Information for this Teacher’s Resource was taken from the references listed above.

 
Thank you to the Massachusetts Dairy Promotion Board for supporting the development of this Teacher’s Resource on the Anaerobic Digestion

 

WORKSHOPS ON THE FARM 2014

Tuesday, July 8

Technology on a Dairy Farm with STEM Connections for the Classroom – Barstow’s Dairy Farm in Hadley

 

On Tuesday, July 8, increase your knowledge of dairy cows and the economics of dairy farming at Barstow’s Dairy Farm in Hadley. We will introduce teachers to innovative dairy lessons available on the MAC website and learn about classroom composting opportunities. JoAnn Mossman will share vermicomposting techniques for the classroom and Paul Pieri will show us an anaerobic composting system adaptable to a classroom setting. Our day will include an opportunity to see how an anaerobic digester works and why this is becoming so popular in Massachusetts . Instructors, Cynthia Jensen and Maria Berrios will demonstrate ways to correlate this information with STEM education in the classroom.

Thursday, July 10

Fibers, Felting, and Fun – Jensen Homestead, Worthington and Phantom Farm, Worthington

 

This workshop offers and orientation to fiber basics using various natural fibers to produce yarns, card, spin and drop-spin. Cynthia Jensen, high school teacher and fiber enthusiast, invites you to her home in Worthington on Thursday, July 10. You will also have the opportunity to use natural dyes, felt and even harvest some of the fibers, while you enjoy practical, hands-on experiences that can be applied in the classroom. In the afternoon, we’ll meet some of the fiber animals at nearby Phantom Farm.

Tuesday, July 15

Success on the Farm and in the Classroom at Smolak Farms in North Andover

 

Smolak Farms in North Andover is 300 years old and covers 155 acres. The farm produces fruits and vegetables and also offers many activities and festivals to the public. On Tuesday, July 15, learn the farm’s history and about the varied ways that farming here has changed through the years with the generations of family managers. You will also have the chance to explore what it takes to keep a farm successful and viable today. Ken Oles will lead a discussion relating to how new ideas can be included in your classroom instruction.

Thursday, July 17

Raising Children’s Awareness of Agriculture and Restoring a Family Farm and Apiary at Bernin Branch YMCA and Akin Bak Farm, Franklin

 

Starting at the YMCA, we will learn about the programs the “Y” has in place for improving children’s nutrition and planning school gardens. Then, we will tour a small farm, looking back through several generations of the same family who has worked this land, now in a suburban setting. Does the newest generation need to make changes? What has made this farm survive as the land around them is commercially developed? We will compare historical farming methods with more modern procedures and many years of beekeeping experience will be shared with the teachers as we observe hives and pollinators. Pollination activities for the classroom will be provided by Ken Oles.

Tuesday, July 22

Forestry Management and Maple Sugar Production on a Family Farm at Curtis Farm, Westminster

 

Travel to Curtis Farm in Westminster on Tuesday, July 22, where we’ll hear from owners JoAnn and Chris Mossman about how they manage the responsibility that comes with a historical family farm. They’ll cover how they are preserving its authenticity while planning for the future. Learn about proper woodland management and managing and preserving the health and resources of this unique woodland, as well as maple syrup production. Science lessons related to trees will be shared , along with some resources from MAC’s website. In the afternoon, we will view the nearby school gardens and learn from JoAnn how lessons from the garden can have STEM connections.

Thursday, July 24

Animals, Minerals, & Vegetables at Heifer International, Rutland

 

Thursday, July 24th takes us to Rutland, where we’ll start the day with a brief orientation to the history and philosophy of Heifer International’s mission. Then livestock manager Donna Kilpatrick, will demonstrate how raising animals and caring for them can be related to classroom activities. Our afternoon tour of the vegetable gardens with an emphasis on new garden bed preparation methods will enable us to view the variety of foods grown at Heifer International and inspire us for our own school gardens!

Tuesday, July 29

The Benefits of Agriculture Education at Norfolk Agricultural School, Walpole

 

Spend Tuesday, July 29 exploring the benefits of Agricultural Education at Norfolk County Agricultural High School in Walpole. We’ll tour the newly expanded facilities as this special school that offers students the opportunity to explore agriculture and natural resources along with a traditional education. Learn how agriculture is woven into the curriculum and the benefits of an the educational experience at an agricultural high school and the many majors that are offered to students. Learn why this may be the perfect choice for some of your students. Instructors will provide appropriate lessons ideas that can be taken back to your own classroom.

Thursday, July 31

Farming Opportunities for Individuals with Disabilities at CapeAbilities, Marston Mills & Dennis

 

The mission of Cape Abilities is to serve individuals with disabilities, so as to empower them to achieve meaningful and valued roles in society. We will learn how this innovative program provides employment to many adults with disabilities while growing some of the best vegetables on Cape Cod! Some questions will be answered for us: Can you grow tomatoes without soil? What’s it like to harvest sea salt? Do methods need to be modified to provide for individual learning styles? We will begin our day at the gardens in Marston Mills where plant propagation takes place, then move to the greenhouses and retail vegetable stand in Dennis. Ken Oles will share lessons that can bring some of this greenhouse technology into your classroom.

 

SUMMER AND FALL CONFERENCES

Tuesday, August 5 th MAC Summer Conference – Algonquin Regional, Northborough
The Second Summer Gardening Conference will present a series of workshops that offer connections from the school garden to the classroom and the curriculum. How are school gardens integrated into the curriculum? Workshops will run concurrently throughout the day, including an opportunity to harvest and prepare lunch from the garden.

Annual Fall Conference - November 8

Mark your calendar. Our 6th annual Fall Conference for Educators will be held November 8th at the Clay Science Center of Dexter & Southfield Schools in Brookline. Tours of the School and Allandale Farm and a choice of concurrent workshops during four workshop sessions. Each will focus on gardening, composting, natural resource conservation and local foods. $50 fee includes lunch, materials and ten professional development points with classroom activity.

Scholarships are available for new and urban teachers and farm educators thanks to a grant from Farm Credit Northeast AgEnhancement.

MASSACHUSETTS AGRICULTURE CALENDAR PHOTO CONTEST

Now is the time to start taking pictures for the 2014 Massachusetts Agriculture Calendar Photo Contest. Photos must be at least 4” by 6” and no larger than 8” by 10” and must have been taken in Massachusetts in the past three years. Send photos of local rural scenes, farm animals, and more by June 1 to Photo Contest, Mass. DAR, 251 Causeway Street, Suite 500, Boston, MA 02114. For more information, e-mail to Richard.LeBlanc@state.ma.us. The twelve winners will be featured in the 2015 Mass. agriculture calendar and posted on MAC’s website. For details visit www.mass.gov/agr/.

Calendar of Events

May 15, “Plant Something”from Mass. Nursery and Landscape Association and Mass. Flowers Growers Association at www.plantsomethingma.org

May 15 - Massachusetts Envirothon, environmental education competition for HS students at Sholan Farm, Leominster. Current Issue Topic is Sustainable Local Agriculture in MA at www.maenvirothon.org.


May 18th - Great Tomato Giveaway & Heirloom Plant Sale at Old Sturbridge Village, visit www.osv.org.

May 24-25 - 40th Annual Massachusetts Sheep & Woolcraft Fair, Cummington Fair-Grounds visit www.masheepwool.org.

May 31st- Tower Hill Botanic Garden Plant Sale, Boylston, For information, visit www.towerhillbg.org.

June 23-27, National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Theme: Sweet Story of Agriculture. Visit www.agclassroom.org.

August 8-10, 40th Annual NOFA Summer Conference, UMass, Amherst, at www.nofasummerconference.org.

September 13th through 28th - Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield. Visit www.thebige.com. September 18 is Massachusetts Day.

September 30th to October 4th, Massachusetts Harvest for Schools Week 2014, visit www.mass.gov/agr/markets/Farm_to_school/

RESOURCES FOR EDUCATORS

“School Gardening Blog” from MAC at http://aginclassroom.org/School%20Gardens/blog.html.

“New Dairy Lessons for Grades 1-4” from Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom at www.aginclassroom.org/For%20Educators/Dairy_Lesson_Plans/dairy_lessons.html.

Build a Dairy Farm to School Connection with MooNews. Visit NewEnglandDairyCouncil.org and click on Moo News.

“Farmer’s Almanac Themed Lessons” and other lessons at www.agintheclassroom.org/TeacherResources/Lesson%20Booklets/Farmers’%20Almanac%20Lessons.pdf.

Soil Testing Laboratory at UMass at http://soiltest.umass.edu/ also Vegetable Crops with specific recommendations at http://extension.umass.edu/vegetable/.

Four Week Embryology Program for schools and Embryology resources from UMass at http://mass4h.org/programs/embryology.

"Farm Recipes” from the Mass. Federation of Farmer’s Markets as well as a list of local markets at www.massfarmersmarkets.org/FMFM_Main.aspx.

M