Today is my last Grass Stain Tour for the year, which is a very bittersweet feeling! It is always nice to see the season wind down and have some jobs on the farm come to an end for the year, but it’s also causing me to reflect on how grateful I have been for the opportunity to lead these school tours. A few weeks ago I received a very large envelope in the mail, full of letters from a middle school class who had recently come for a tour. Each student had written to tell me five things he or she had learned while at Polyface, and had drawn me pictures of farm animals to boot! While I hold many precious memories in my heart of time spent with students here at the farm, it is so meaningful to have these tangible letters to hold on to as well.
With family farms on the decline, and countless industrial farms that aren’t exactly visitor-friendly, kids these days don’t have a solid concept of what farming is – or what raising food entails before it gets to the grocery store. Growing up in the mid-1980’s, my only concept of a farm was from my Fisher-Price Little People farm play set – you know, the one with the plastic silo, the rotund little farmer, and the chicken who was oddly the same size as the farmer… this was what introduced me to the idea of “farming.”
Given this early plastic concept of farming, it is with ironic delight that I have led these tours. When schools and home school groups visit, I give them lots of information about our methods and how they differ from industrial models. But I also know that beyond any facts I can give them, we’re providing them with a fresh setting and a new visual understanding of what farming can be. What an honor!
I am very grateful to the Salatin family for allowing me to nurture this program into existence. I have learned how to articulate Polyface concepts in different ways, and have grown confident in my presentation and speaking skills. But even more meaningful to me has been the fact that I was invited to invest my unique personhood – the “Brie-ness of Brie,” if you will – here at Polyface farm. And that is priceless.
(P.S. – I wrote a little bit about the tour program over on HandPicked Nation last year, if you’d like to read more.)
How about you – do you open up your farm for tourism or educational visits? What do you love about it? What are the drawbacks? If you do not currently open your farm up in these types of ways, what would make you consider it?