Farm to Table program plants seeds of knowledge at DMK

An agricultural enrichment program at Dennis M. Kenney Middle School is teaching students about the food they eat, thanks to the Farm to Table offering.

Seventh and eighth graders work with Dr. Christine Lamont to plant seeds and grow various fruits, vegetables and herbs. They see the process through, from start to finish, by using simple science activities to investigate the origin and nutritional content of common foods. They also examine the structure and function of food crops, the impacts of fertilizers, light, and grazing on plant growth, along with the role of pollinators and bacteria in food production.

“The students are able to develop additional science skills that they don’t get in regular science classes,” Lamont said. “They leave the class able to design experiments and collect data. They use compound and digital microscopes and have had experience using digital probes to measure pH and temperature.”

In addition to growing different crops, students also explore nature and identify birds in the area. They report their findings to the Cornell Ornithology lab via eBird, and they also research monarch butterflies and frogs. These opportunities, Lamont said, have given students the chance to thrive in a different classroom environment.

“I think this small group setting is ideal to facilitate teamwork and problem solving; skills that are important for all of their other classes,” Lamont said. “The smaller setting lets shy students have the opportunity to speak up and be parts of teams. I am hoping that the students will leave my class with a greater appreciation of the natural world and that, in turn, will lead them to be citizens who want to protect it.”