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Farm and Garden

Lower School Farm and Garden

The CDS farm and garden program began at 333 Dolores with a few fruit trees from an existing orchard, and now enhances our one-acre, four-season organic garden as well as our sheep and chicken farm. Since then, our school and program has expanded to include a rooftop garden and an agricultural science program at our 601 Dolores middle school location.

By engaging children in the process of growing food and raising animals, we are hoping to enhance children’s development, strengthen their connection to the natural world, and provide a model of environmental stewardship.

Students first begin attending farm and garden classes in preschool. They are welcomed to the “Strawbale Circle” where they begin to develop a relationship with our Farm and Garden Manager, Robin, who introduces the children to the many ways they can help take care of the garden and animals. These activities include feeding the chickens, harvesting vegetables, finding snails, cultivating the garden beds, and more. We aim to be developmentally responsive to the needs of each child by offering choices that range from exploratory and self-directed to more teacher-driven.

From kindergarten through fourth grade, all lower school students have classes in the garden as part of their specials rotation. Additionally, students participate in the morning farm chores, giving small groups of students the opportunity to feed the animals at the beginning of the school day.

The CDS farm and garden program in the lower school has four broad educational objectives. To learn more about our farm & garden curricular goals, please refer to our curriculum grid.

  • To cultivate a deep understanding of the science behind our farm and garden.  Teachers lead inquiry-based discussions and design units that illuminate children’s observations and build upon their understanding of the hidden natural systems that govern our planet.
  • To provide hands-on experiences in the practice of farming and gardening that foster a sense of ownership and responsibility. Students are the primary caretakers of the farm and garden and do tasks ranging from mucking the sheep barn to aerating the compost heap. When appropriate, students are presented with different problem-based learning challenges which are based on the needs of the garden but also can integrate with the science curriculum. Topics include composting, pest control, and water conservation.
  • To integrate and enhance topics presented by the social studies, art, math, science, and community-based learning curricula. Farm and garden teachers collaborate with head teachers to illuminate topics by using natural phenomena.
  • To develop empathy and gratitude for the resources provided by animals and plants. Students are encouraged to express curiosities and wonders about the well-being of both our domestic and our wild animal communities. They gain a deeper sense of time as they witness the life cycle of our plants and a rich appreciation for flavor as they learn different methods of cooking our garden’s bounty. 

Middle School Food and Agricultural Sciences Program 
Read more about the Middle School's Food and Agricultural Sciences (FAS) Program, an organic progression of the Lower School Farm and Garden curriculum that takes full advantage of the technology and space offered by the 601 Dolores middle school building.

Family Farmer Program
Our farm and garden program also provides fun opportunities for family participation. Through the Family Farmer Program, each CDS family has the chance to care for the farm animals during weekends and vacations.