Gallifreyan Farm is pleased to announce the pilot for our “Li’l Growers” program. We’re very excited to bring this program to our community, and hope that it will be wildly successful. To be fair, the program’s success directly depends not on us, nor you parents, but the kids.
The focus of Gallifreyan Farm is to produce fiber, eggs, and vegetables. While we are not, nor do we currently have plans to become “certified organic”, we do utilize mostly organic practices, and we avoid using harsh chemicals and fertilizers.
Our “tagline” says “Alternative Sustainable Agriculture”. The operative word here is “sustainable”. In simplest terms, sustainable agriculture is the production of food, fiber, or other plant or animal products using farming techniques that protect the environment, public health, human communities, and animal welfare. It also means that there is typically very little waste on the farm: we re-use feed bags; we compost everything, to include animal waste, straw, hay, and rotten vegetables.
We have proven over the past decade, with our small-scale farming in town, that our methods and philosophies are solid. And they work. And we can help you (and the kids) learn how to do it as well. Of course, if you’re really pressed for time and space, we will have our vegetable stand available, come harvest time!
We selected pumpkins for this year’s program. We may continue to just grow pumpkins in subsequent years, or we may opt to go with another vegetable. But pumpkins are straight-forward, and they are relatively easy to take care of and harvest. Plus, it will leave the kids with something pretty cool that they can carve into jack o’lanterns, or help you make a pumpkin pie.
Over the course of this program, the kids (and you) will learn:
- How to plant the pumpkins and manage a garden
- The importance of fertilizer, weeding, and irrigation
- Teamwork and camaraderie
- That, while a lot of work, gardening is actually easy, fun, and it can be very mindful
Gardening also helps get people back in touch with nature and our planet. Cultivating a plant from seed to harvest is a significant event, and while it’s not like Farmville or Minecraft, it contains its own magic.
Pumpkins also have the added potential benefit of explosive growth. Vines can grow very rapidly in a short period of time, so that is progress that the kids can see on a weekly, or bi-weekly, basis. We’re hoping that the excitement of watching something tangible like that is enough so they look forward to getting grubby during every visit.
What to Bring
Since this is a working farm, it can be dirty and smelly and really hot or really cold. Kids don’t need any special equipment, just their hands and a little elbow grease.
- Dress for the weather. However, we do highly recommend long pants (jeans), especially ones that you don’t mind if they get trashed over the course of the growing season.
- Boots/galoshes/muck boots/old sneakers. Basically, anything with closed toes that can either be rinsed off or tossed out after the growing season.
- Brimmed hats are recommended to keep the sun off delicate faces and necks.
- Other Stuff
- See above about delicate faces and necks.
- Bug dope. The Farm is in the country, and there are mosquitoes and blackflies. We do work hard to ensure all the grass is mowed and we utilize “bug zappers”, but that never seems to get rid of all of them.
- You know your kids and know what they like to snack on.
Cost vs. Benefit
Since this is the pilot program, we honestly don’t know what to charge, so this year we will simply ask for donations. If you figure the costs of the seeds, the diesel to run the tractor, the time to till the pumpkin beds, the time to fertilize and prepare the beds, water… it can add up pretty quickly. Also, think about the cost of a locally-grown pumpkin, one that you might find at a farm stand, and realize that every seed put into the ground has the potential to produce three or four pumpkins.
The return, however, can be considered priceless. The kids get out of the house for a couple hours, they (perhaps unwittingly) learn and have fun doing so, they will be able to see their progress, and at the end, they will have their own pumpkin(s) to take home; pumpkins that they can tell their friends that they grew themselves. Results that they can be proud of.
We would LOVE to be able to provide the kids with “Li’l Growers” t-shirts, but that will directly depend on how many kids get signed up and involved, as well as how much money we can raise. While we’d love to provide the t-shirts for free, we are still a start-up, so money is tight. The t-shirts would range from $15-$20 each.
Also, the Farm will hold a number of cook-outs over the growing season: on the first day, during our first “open farm” day, and on the harvest day. We will provide burgers and dogs, and ask for you to bring sides (chips, potato salad, whatever), as well as any applicable “other” food, depending on you and your kids’ diet.
Overall, there are farms throughout the US that charge upwards of $100 per kid for similar programs. Granted, they have the customer base and full-time staff, as well larger communities to draw from, but we like being small. And we really love our community.
Tentative Schedule – Events
As with all things farming, schedules are subject to change, however, this will be a good outline to plan on.
- May 27 (Raindate: June 3)
- Farm opens at 10am. We hope to have a fun-filled day with lots of learning and, of course, DIRT!
- Cook-out around noon.
- Rock painting after lunch, and yes! the kids can take their rocks home after harvest.
- June 10 – Post-shearing
- Farm opens at 10am. The kids will weed and water their pumpkins (and help other kids, of course!), and they will get to see the recently-sheared alpacas.
- July 1 – Open Farm Day
- 7am: Farm opens to vendors
- 9am: Farm opens to public
- 10am: Music starts
- 12pm: Lunch
- After lunch: more music, more activities. We highly encourage you to come over with your kids, so they can weed and water, and maybe brag a little to their friends.
- 6pm: Farm closes
- August 5 (We’ll work on ideas for an event)
- Farm opens at 10am. It starts getting really dry in August, so watering will be a very important chore!
- August 26 (We’ll work on ideas for an event)
- Farm opens at 10am.
- September 16 (estimated) – Harvest day
- 10am: Farm opens
- Begin to harvest the pumpkins
- Clearing the garden beds – dragging pumpkin vines to the compost pile
- 12pm: Celebratory cookout lunch
- 2pm: Farm closes. Kids can take home their pumpkins and rocks
Throughout the growing season, the farm will be open from 10am to 2pm every other Sunday to give the kids the opportunity to do some weeding and watering, as well as pick rocks, and any other farm chores that they might have an interest in doing (that doesn’t involve the tractor or power tools, of course). We’ll always have bottled water available on these days, but please arrange to bring lunches and/or snacks if you plan on hanging out with us all day.
We can and will extend the 2pm “closing time” a bit, in deference to folks whose church services might run a little later in the morning. While we’d like to run this program at any other time, it had to be on a weekend, and we’re booked every single Saturday for the Houlton Community Market, and any other agricultural fairs that may be scheduled.
Safety is our top priority. Not only the safety of you and your family, but also the safety of our animals and crops. Please adhere to the rules, so that everyone is safe and has fun.
Please note that rules may be added, but we really don’t want to seem like spoilsports right out of the gate.
- Obey all posted signs.
- No climbing on fences or gates (even though it looks like fun!).
- Children must be with their adult(s) and supervised at all times.
- Stay off machinery and compost piles, and away from any construction.
- Please clean up after yourself. Trash and recycling receptacles will be available.
- Park in the designated area.
Additional livestock rules:
- Do not feed the animals.
- Do not poke, chase, or throw things at the animals.
- Do not try to pet any of the animals.
- WASH YOUR HANDS BEFORE AND AFTER petting any animal.
- Biosecurity is paramount. Every animal on the farm needs to be at peak health, and we don’t wish for you to run the risk of getting sick either.
- Stay out of all buildings, farms, or sheds.
With luck, this 4-page novel hasn’t scared you off! It seems like a good foundation to simplify a great number of some fairly scary variables. But long story short: we want you all to have fun – safely, and covered in dirt.
Enrollment Form Now Available