Laren Field School Partners with ENCA Farm
by Filez Perez
ENCA Farm is an ideal environment for our Adolescent Program Field School Activity. Laren Field School students have the opportunity to interact with a community in caring for the environment. Utilizing the primary Municipal watershed of Tublay, that flows through ENCA Farm, students can apply what they have learned in the classroom related to water conservation and river cycles.
Sophie and Gabbie harvesting green beans.
Photo taken by Padma Perez
Given the complexity of adolescents, programs such as the Laren Field School partnership, provide a positive educational opportunity that aims to inspire youth during a period of great transition and self discovery.
The Laren School Adolescent Program is modeled after Maria Montessori's framework for adolescents. Montessori referred to adolescents as Erdkinder or Land-children. She believed that adolescents need physical work in order for them to understand the changes that their bodies are going through, farming is a positive outlet for this. It is also important to challenge adolescents intellectually, striking the balance between areas that are new and challenging and those in which adolescent have some familiarity.
Our program is designed to promote social responsibility, independence and a sense of community. It is to prepare teenagers for real challenges that they will meet outside of school. The students are encouraged to care for themselves, care for the environment at a community level, and to care for others around them.
On ENCA Farm the two female students were responsible for housekeeping (making their own beds, cleaning, fetching water, etc.), meal preparation, and farm work. The afternoons were dedicated to lessons about culture, history, natural resources, and bio-diversity .
The girls worked in the garden participating in activities such as weeding, preparing the seed beds, and planting seeds. The most exciting experience was harvesting pako (edible fern) and green beans. The girls were able to sample some of their harvest which gave them a great sense of accomplishment. They also saw the produce they harvested in the organic market in Café By The Ruins in Baguio City. In addition to being exciting, this helped them connect the process by which produce travels from farm to market.
The girls very much enjoyed interaction with the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOFer) Volunteers; during these conversations they exchanged stories and learned about other countries and cultures. Working alongside others also fostered a sense of community which is critical during adolescents.
Sophie and Gabbie interviewing and taking Ibaloi
lessons from Auntie Olive.
Photo taken by Padma Perez
The girls benefited from the opportunity to learn and apply lessons in Ibaloi culture and Cordillera history while on the farm. Through rich conversations with Auntie Olive they were exposed to Ibaloi culture and language . While on the farm they also learned about indigenous agricultural practices such as using sunflowers as nitrogen fixers and natural fertilizers.
The overall experience of being at ENCA farm provided these girls with experiences that they will talk about for years. They matured a great deal during their time on the farm. They enjoyed cooking for themselves, serving food to others, and sharing what they had learned with the people they met.
ENCA Farm provided us with a wonderful learning opportunity, we we hope to return to annually!
(The Laren Field School based in Manila, has partnered with ENCA Farm twice for Field School Activities. Each time spending 3 to 4 days at the farm. We look forward to continuing this positive relationship and helping educate the next generation of environmental leaders.)