I had the pleasure of walking around Small Ones Farm and interviewing Sally Fitz about her early childhood farm education summer camp. Located in Amherst, Ma, Small Ones Farm is probably the most adorable farm you’ve seen in a while, because it’s geared towards five and six year olds, everything is tiny.
Sally was a psychology professor before starting Small Ones Farm with her husband Bob and that is extremely apparent in the layout and management of the camp. Since the students are five and six years old, big open spaces, like a farm, can be incredibly overwhelming to them. Kids need clear boundaries and limits in order to feel safe and comfortable and receptive to information. The camp area is a small mini-farm with a wooden fence around it, this doesn’t cage the kids in, it allows them to see the bigger, working farm surrounding them, the beautiful fields and orchard, but also makes them feel safe.
Literally everything in the mini-farm is thought out and geared towards teaching kids how to nurture the world around them and see that they are a part of it. There is a “sunflower house”, sunflowers planted that grow tall and create a space for kids to go sit and be entirely surrounded by plants. There’s also a bean tunnel, where children get a different perspective of plants growing and also makes harvesting an adventure. Kids in the camp also learn about compost and plant cycles, and see firsthand that nurturing plants helps them grow.
Another aspect of Small Ones Farm program that I really liked is that it runs alongside a working farm so kids get to see what a farm looks like, what a farmer looks like (Sally mentioned that all the farmers make it a point to come eat snack with the kids). Also incorporated is a weekly visit from a scientist that comes to teach the kids about natural science in ways that are accessible to them.
Small Ones Farm is a beautiful, loving place. Not only do Bob and Sally have a CSA, they also sell honey, apple cider, pies, and apples at their roadside stand. It was really great to see that even in this time of economic uncertainty, there are still wonderful people out there following their passion and doing the good work that needs to be done.
Many Thanks to Sally for the adorable pictures of the camp when it’s up and running and for taking the time to talk!