Maria Montessori firmly believed in the importance of a child’s opportunity to interact with the natural environment as an integral part of growth and education. She called this concept “Erdkinder,” which translates to “children of the earth.” At Welsh Hills School, children are actively involved in our Farm or “Erdkinder” program year-round on a routine basis beginning in kindergarten and continuing through high school. However, children of all ages, including toddlers, have a myriad of “Erdkinder” experiences in our gardens, on the school grounds, and in our greenhouse.
Students are involved in all phases of growing, from selecting and planting seeds in greenhouse, transplanting in the garden, and caring for the growing plants, to harvesting. Our program plants heritage seeds, and produces its own compost. As children progress through the program, they are given additional responsibility for managing the gardens and greenhouse and learn about the natural environment in greater depth and detail. Under the guidance of our Agricultural Program Manager, older students research plants and make decisions affecting every phase of the greenhouse and garden operation. They even use their produce to prepare food for their fellow students and sell food they’ve grown to the greater community. In the classroom, they study the industrial food chain, organic farming, environmental impacts, government policies, and health issues. Through the Farm or “Erdkinder” program, children experience firsthand the joy of gardening and the satisfaction of producing food for themselves and others.