Winter planning for spring chickens
With support from the grant, the district plans to build its agricultural program, with a twist: raising chickens and growing sweet corn to prepare a large batch of chicken and corn chowder to feed students and the wider community.
While teachers and staff have been preparing for the project for months – such as attending a farm to school training last fall with other Seed Change grant recipients – student involvement has recently taken off as the project has been integrated into classroom curriculum. Over the past few weeks, students have been preparing for the arrival of 40 fertilized eggs that will be hatched and raised to adulthood on the school grounds this spring.
When the eggs arrive, kindergarten students will be responsible for watching over the incubators until the eggs hatch. This lesson in caring for the eggs will be integrated into their science curriculum, teaching them the process of hatching eggs and identifying the conditions young chicks need to live and grow.
Middle and high school students in the woodshop and agriculture classes have been constructing brooder boxes that will keep the newly hatched chicks warm and cozy in their infant stage. The classes are also designing and constructing a hen house for when the chicks grow larger. Later this spring, after the birds have grown to full size, both the agriculture and family and consumer science classes will be directly involved in butchering and processing the chickens for chowder.
While the project initially intended for student to grow their own corn for the chowder, an unusually wet summer prevented them from having a successful growing season. Therefore, corn was purchased from a nearby farmer, which family and consumer science classes processed and froze to be used in the chowder later this spring. Currently, the students are researching chicken corn chowder recipes, testing different methods of preparing soup, as well as learning about ways of processing and storing chicken and corn.
Once the chicken corn chowder is made, the district plans to sell the soup as a fundraiser to fund the project’s continuation next year. In this way, they hope the project will become a self-sustaining school tradition.
“Innovative projects like this have a significant impact on entire communities,” says Kelsey Porter, Pennsylvania’s Seed Change state coordinator. “Students are engaging in agriculture in new and exciting ways, teachers are utilizing new tools in the classroom, and communities are renewing their excitement about local food.”
Learn more about our Seed Change initiative and how we're growing farm to school state by state here.
Seed Change in Kentucky, Louisiana and Pennsylvania is made possible by a generous grant from the Walmart Foundation, which shares the National Farm to School Network’s commitment to improving child and community healthy through innovative partnerships.