• Accokeek Foundation

Nurturing Young Minds Through Service Learning

On June 7, the blueberries weren’t quite ripe yet. A few weeks before, eight students lovingly weeded and side-dressed the blueberry patch in the hopes that this year’s berry crop would be unparalleled. And on their last day on the farm for the year, they wanted to enjoy the literal fruit of their labor.

So the students took to the patch determined to find a ripe berry among the dozens of bushes. After a few moments, the cry went up–“I found one!” One glorious, huge, juicy blueberry ready to be enjoyed. The prize was brought back to Ms. Adriana Gomez, who took out her pocket knife and cut the berry into 4 equal pieces and handed the small-but-juicy quarters out to the students who wanted a taste. It was a success—the blueberry was delicious, and all the tastier for being shared among friends who had helped it grow.

Students search among the blueberry bushes at the Ecosystem Farm.

This experience is at the heart of the question, “What legacy will we, in our lifetime, leave to our children and to future generations?” Will we raise a generation of environmental stewards capable of addressing some of the most challenging issues of our day? Will they have the knowledge necessary to make more informed choices as citizens and consumers? Will they maintain (or regain) their link to the land?

In the hopes that the answer to these questions is a resounding “yes,” the Ecosystem Farm welcomed the 2nd and 3rd grade classes from Potomac Crescent Waldorf School (PCWS) in each week this spring. The students, led by Ms. Gomez and Ms. Lark Bergwin-Anderson, are studying farming and gardening in the classroom so their work on the farm gives them the practical experience to connect with their classroom studies. It also gives them context for when they begin their Botany block in the 5th grade. But above that, it gives them a completely unique learning experience.

During thei