Food for Thought

NH Agriculture in the Classroom Newsletter


A Berry Good Time of YearJune - July 2011
In This Issue
Visit a Berry Patch
Alpaca Teaching Kit
Ag Day in Candia
Visit a Berry Patch

June maybe National Dairy Month, but it is also the start of strawberry season.  "Pick your own" fields and farm stands are now hanging out their signs advertising the long awaited first fresh fruit of the season.  Picking strawberries is a great activity to do with children as an end of the school year field trip, a summer program outing or a special family excursion.  To find a strawberry farm near you, visit the Department of Agriculture website: www.nh.gov/agric or one of the local food networks in your area.


When taking children to any farm, it is important to understand guidelines that will make sure the children are safe and the farmers' resources are not adversely impacted.  Here are a few tips provided by a local farm to help make your trip and product more enjoyable.  Happy picking.


#1.  Wear shoes that you don't mind if they get wet or muddy.

#2.  A water bottle, hat and sunscreen are important on sunny days.

#3.  Check the picking schedule - farms aren't like big box stores that are open 24/7.

#4.  Picking near the opening time is always better than waiting for the last 10 minutes of the closing time.  Fruit ripens during the down times so if the patch is closed in the afternoon, and the sun is out picking is good the next morning.

#5. Ask where the picking is good and follow the rules of the field.

#6. After picking, plan to go straight home to take care of them  Don't head off shopping for 4 hours and leave the berries in a hot car.  

#7. Pick up a package of Certo or natural pectin.  Making jam enables you to enjoy the berries long after the season is done.  Freezer jam is great to make with the kids and requires no cooking.  

#8. Freeze whole strawberries for strawberry milk shakes or smoothies in the blender.

#9. When picking, harvest all of the red berries large and small.  Small ones are much sweeter because the natural sugar is more intense just based on volume size.

#10.  Make sure to take cash, because not all farms accept credit cards or checks.

#11.  Remember that eating directly off the vine cuts into the profit of the farmer who works hard to raise your food.  If you can't resist tasting a few berries, add in a bit of extra cash when you check out to pay for them.  Some farms have "sin boxes" to put those extra contributions into, but eating without paying for them is like shop lifting at a store.


New Alpaca 
Teaching Kit 

We are extremely pleased to announce that NHAITC has a new resource available for teachers.  "Absolutely Alpacas!" is an educational kit created and donated by the Cottage Industry Alpaca Breeders Association (CIABA).  This is a national group of alpaca breeders and enthusiasts who are passionate about their animals and the fiber they produce.  They have assembled a very professional, user-friendly curriculum guide for K-2 teachers.  The guide provides background information on alpacas, multiple hands-on activities for students and a list of alpaca breeders in New Hampshire that educators can use as local resources.  The kit contains all of the materials necessary for conducting the activities.


This kit is available for loan from our Concord office.  Contact us if you are interested in borrowing it.


Thanks to NHAITC board member and alpaca breeder Valerie Newell for obtaining this kit for us so that we can make it available to educators throughout New Hampshire.

Calendar of Events


June 18, 10-4 

NH Dairy Day 

at the NH Farm Museum


Demonstrations, live animals, hayrides, tours, free ice cream.

Call 652-7840.


July 18-22 & August 8-12 AgVenture Day Camp 

Andover, NH

Hands-on fun and learning 

for ages 10-17 at 

Two Mountain Farm. 

Call 724-4983 or www.twomountainfarm.com.


July 18, 6:00 pm 

Beneficial Insects and How to Attract Them 


Taught by UNH Extension Educator, Dot Perkins.

Call 796-2151.


July 30, all day 

Carroll County Farm Day - Farming in Your Backyard 


UNH Extension & Farm Bureau sponsor workshops and demos.

Call 447-3834.


August 12-14

NOFA Summer Conference

Amherst, MA

Workshops, demonstrations, vendors

Early bird registration deadline July 11. 




August 19, 9-4 

NatureExplore Teacher Workshop 

Peter Woodbury School, Bedford

Creating and Using Outdoor Classrooms (including gardens). 

Early bird registration deadline July 15. info@dimensionsfoundation.org



If you know of a farm education related event that you'd like us to help promote, let us know.


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Ruth Smith, Statewide Coordinator

Deb Robie, Grafton County Coordinator

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Happy Summer (almost),

The school year is nearly over so it's a great time to look back at some of the educational efforts that NH Agriculture in the Classroom has facilitated and participated in this year.  As I coordinate these programs for the first time, I am thankful for the many volunteers who share from their experiences of past involvement and help me learn the ropes.  I have indeed learned a lot in the past several months - made new friends, added to my agricultural knowledge and discovered the excitement of School to Farm Days, the Ag Literacy program and the magic of integrating farm programs into curricula.

 Ruth at UNH School to Farm

In the past 6 months, thanks to more than 150 volunteers, NHAITC programs have reached over 5500 students throughout the state.  Children have been read to about bees, met various farmers, pet sheep, visited farms, started seeds, touched "worm poo", tasted maple syrup, watched chicks hatch, and most importantly begun to understand how their lives are connected to and depend on farms.  I look forward to spending time this summer planning even more ways that we can help students understand and appreciate agriculture and help educators integrate ag. ed. into their lessons in the coming school year.


In the mean time, check out this newsletter for ideas of how your summer activities can help prepare you for more agriculturally related activities for the next school year.  This is a great time to go to farmer's markets, visit local farm stands and meet the folks who grow food and fiber in your own communities.  In addition to enjoying the fresh food they are producing, ask them about planning a field trip to their farm, or coming to your class.  If they are hesitant, encourage them to contact me for tips on welcoming children to farms. 


However, if you are a classroom teacher, one of the best ways that you can spend your summer is to relax, recharge and relish the season.  Teaching and farming are some of the most important professions and it is important to take a deep breath and reflect on the important work that you do.


Have a great summer and stay tuned for workshops, new curriculum, resources and opportunities to work together in the coming seasons.


Best wishes,


Ruth Smith, Statewide Coordinator


Agriculture and Environment Day in Candia
goats at Candia Ag Day

New Hampshire Agriculture in the Classroom coordinates and participates in several School to Farm events throughout the state.  These are programs where multiple farmers come to a central location and set up learning stations. Numerous schools visit the stations to learn about what the farmers do.  It's a great way to expose students to the variety of farms that exist in our state and help them see first hand some of the people, animals and plants that provide their food and fiber.  (If you would like to participate in one of these events, please contact us.)


Another approach is used by the Woodsville Elementary School in Grafton County and the Moore School in Candia.  Rather than bringing the students to the farmers, they bring the farmers to the school.  For the fourth year, the Moore School has sponsored an Agricultural Day (now called the Agriculture and Environment day) with the purpose of raising student awareness of the sources of their food and fiber and also the importance of past agricultural heritage and current environmental stewardship.


Nancy Maloney, a health teacher at the Moore School says she and colleagues were inspired by a visit to the Farm and Forest Exposition in Manchester a few winters ago.  They decided they would hold their own expo at school which could address GLE's, and state requirements in health, science and other core curriculum.


I interviewed Nancy about their recent Agriculture and Environment Day to learn more about how it works.                              


NHAITC: What types of presenters attend your event?


Nancy: We had a huge variety this year, 25 in all.  They included Master Gardeners from UNH Extension, a beekeeper, chicken farmer, wool spinner, local food advocates and students from Jessie Remington High School doing post and beam barn construction.  The animals included oxen, a mini horse, alpaca, sheep and lambs, goats, rabbits, and even Smokey the Bear!


NHAITC:  How did you find these farm related presenters?


Nancy: We're lucky.  Candia has a strong agricultural heritage and still has quite a few farms.  We focused on utilizing our own community resources first and then branched out when necessary.


NHAITC:  How has response been from teachers, students, parents, farmers and the community?


Nancy: The community and farmers are very supportive. Getting speakers is not a problem.  Now that word is out, they call me months in advance to get involved.


Some 4-H groups have started in town, probably as a result of these days.  More people in town are planting gardens, raising chickens, and are aware of agriculture in town.  We're starting a school garden with help from a Master Gardener.


Other teachers have come to see that the day is very educational and know that the kids love it. 


NHAITC:  What is the most rewarding part for you and your students?


Nancy: Feedback from presenters is great, they enjoy the kids.  The kids are learning things in a meaningful way.


NHAITC:  What is the most challenging part of this event?


Nancy: Scheduling and logistics.  I needed to learn to use Excel to organize it all! Each grade level sees 5 speakers and does a general tour.  Students spend 30 minutes at each station, which is too long for younger kids and not long enough for older kids.


It's also a challenge to figure out how to get more people, especially parents, involved so the whole community can benefit.  Some parents come to volunteer but it would be great to expose more families to these resources.


NHAITC:  Do you have some favorite resources or ideas that others from different areas might utilize? 


Nancy: UNHMaster Gardeners (available in each county), your PTO - ours provides lunch for presenters, Farm & Forest, local businesses like Agway for in-kind donations, we also use high school students as volunteers. 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

If you are inspired to try something like this at your school or in your town, Nancy is willing to chat with folks and invites individuals (not classes) to come and observe their event next spring.  Nancy can be reached at nmaloney@SAU15.net.  NHAITC can also help connect you with farmers, provide resources and consultation.  Contact us if you're interested.


Composting at School
Does your school compost food waste from snacks and lunches? Would you like to learn how to do that?  We are looking for schools who can serve as examples for others as we plan to offer workshops later this year on how to turn food waste into useful fertilizer for school grounds and gardens.

If you are currently composting, or would like to try it, please let us know: nhaitc@nhfarmbureau.org
School to Farm Days at UNH
UNH School to Farm cow & boysWe'd like to say thank you to the UNH Fairchild Teaching & Research Center, the Equine Center, the College of LIfe Sciences and Agriculture and the Strafford County Farm Bureau for hosting and sponsoring the 24th School to Farm Days at UNH.  Additional thanks is extended to all of the 30+ volunteers who staffed stations and helped make this annual event a great success. Nearly 750 fourth grade students from 10 different schools attended the event and learned about various aspects of agriculture.  Thanks also to the teachers who brought their students for this fun and educational field trip.
UNH School to Farm