The Village School
at Bread & Butter Farm
We are thrilled to offer our farm and forest based program, The Village School at Bread & Butter Farm. Village School is offered Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays for kids grades 1-5 (Ages 7-11)
What is Village School?
Village School is a day-long immersive opportunity for kids to engage in our farm and forests. Our classroom is the farm and over 100 acres of forests, fields, savannas, and marshlands in Shelburne, VT. Our mentors engage kids through meaningful work and games emphasizing the fulfilling relationships of humans with each other and our surrounding natural community. Together, we sink into the rhythm of farm life and the natural world.
Village School gives kids opportunities to experience life in a thriving landscape. We celebrate growing food as a crucial and purposeful practice in human communities, while we learn from and honor the habitats shaped by our wildland neighbors. The oak trees standing tall in our woodlands and hedgerows give acorns to wildlife and our pigs alike, reminding us to care for the oaks and give thanks in helping to regenerate new oak seedlings. When we deepen our understanding and appreciation of the interconnectedness of food and ecosystems, our farms and wildlands can soften their boundaries on the land and in our minds.
Village School guides kids in developing essential skills in building a fulfilling community. We work together in our shared daily tasks watering our plants, feeding our animals, and maintaining our basecamp while we model and practice open and clear communication through storytelling and co-leadership. Fire building gifts kids a confluence of the responsibility in managing a powerful tool, the common utility of warming and cooking heat, and the invitation to cooperatively gatherwood, prepare the fire structure, and spark our community flame. Our daily rhythm itself serves to help us cultivate a culture of respect, love, curiosity, tradition and openness needed to build a healthy Village.
A Day at Village School
Chores - Guilds - Lunch - Explore time - Sit Spot - Gratitude - Fire
9:00: Arrival-Gathering circle, check in, gratitude around farm fire pit
9:30: Farm Chores
10:15: Hike up to Base Camp
10:30: Fire Lighting and Snack Time
11:00 Daily Guild
12:30 Lunch Time
1:00: Sit Spot
1:15: Free/explore time
2:30: Story Catcher
Guild Activities & Skills
• Traditional Skills: Fire building, shelter and forts, cordage making, wood crafts
• Farm Skills: Harvesting and planting, animal husbandry, food presevation
• Naturalist Skills: Plant and Animal identification, soil health and building, observation, reflection
• Community Member: Team building, problem solving, team work, communication, conflict resolution, trust, gender
• Play: Physical health, climbing, playing, running, hiking, strength, games
Food as a vital component of this program and of our humanity. In addition to caring for the plants and animals on the farm, kids exercise shared leadership in creating a lunch menu and build skills in whole food cooking from harvesting vegetables from the gardens to preparing and cooking the meal to sharing lunch with the whole farm team. By engaging directly with the food that we eat, kids develop a love for eating healthy food from the land. This is a central theme of the Village school.
Unstructured free play fills the interstitial space of childhood, yet is often the first thing lost as their kids days become busier. Free play helps kids develop self-advocacy skills and learn to work collaboratively while stimulating creativity and imagination. It creates space for kids to following their curiosity to discover new areas of interest and pursue areas of passion. As a main component of Village School, free play is a part of our daily routine as we explore the farmstead and surrounding wildlands.
Traditional skills are those useful and often essential methods and technologies that have been passed from one generation to the next throughout human history. They provide a direct and meaningful connection to the natural world, and serve to empower and fuel creativity. At the Village School we practice all kinds of traditional skills from wild edible foraging to friction fire building, wood carving to cordage making, clay shaping to storytelling, and many things in between. Our traditional skills focus on what can be derived from the land around us as a means of better engaging with our environment.
Mentorship is the backbone of Village School that links together kids and adult mentors in a tight group based on trust and shared learning.
Alex Gemme: Alex has been a part of Bread & Butter Farm in various capacities for several years - as a gardener and as a Burger Night crew member. We are thrilled to have him here in a more full time capacity as one of the Mentors for Village School as well as in our greenhouses and gardens. Alex has taught in various settings including in the gardens at Rock Point School, as a rock climbing guide, an apprentice ski guide, and as a mentor with Crow’s Path. Alex's gentle style puts all of us at ease. He is steady and strong and kind.
Bekah Gordon: Bekah has been the "Jill of All Trades" here at Bread & Butter Farm. She has done nearly all tasks, and most recently has been the Director of our Camp Bread & Butter and Greenhouse Manager. She has also worked as the Forest Leader at the Schoolhouse Farm, Forest, Food Program for 3 years. Bekah is vibrant, fun, passionate and inspires everyone she encounters! She treats all kids as equal peers and loves to the woods as a space to help kiddos deepen their trust and joy for the natural world.
Corie Pierce: Corie is the owner of Bread & Butter Farm and wears all hats on the farm. When she began farming as a 14 year old in NH, she almost instantly envisioned a program like Village School. She felt like farming and learning about how nature and growing food intersect was one of the most important things we could learn as humans, and how to do it respectfully, while protecting the earth we live on, was something all kids should learn - and have fun doing it! Corie has worked to build a farm that includes people of all ages to learn, teach, and engage in how we steward this beautiful land and grow and raise delicious, healthy food. She is thrilled to have kiddos come to Village School to deepen their connection to this land and to the people who live and work here and invite them into this community!
The other adults who work and live at Bread & Butter Farm are a part of the Village School community too. We all have lunch on Wednesdays as a community and offer special guilds to the kids. We enjoy tapping into the wide array of skills offered by all the folks who are involved with Bread & Butter Farm.
INSPIRATION FOR VILLAGE SCHOOL
In collaboration with The Schoolhouse Learning Center of South Burlington, we have run a private program since 2013 for kids who attend The Schoolhouse called "Farm Food Forest" (FFF). It has been a wonderful opportunity for us to engage kiddos on the farm and in our woods on a weekly basis. All kids who attend The Schoolhouse - preschoolers through middle school - participate in the FFF Program. This is a state-of-the-art, true "Farm to School" program that deepens kids learning about where food comes from and how to be land stewards.
We also have been long time admirers of Crow's Path of Rockpoint in Burlington. We have dreamed of hosting a similarly constructed program here at Bread & Butter Farm. Both Alex and Bekah have worked in various capacities with folks from Crow's Path and have also received mentorship from them. We believe hands-on, experiential learning opportunities for kiddos to truly immerse in their community, the land, and meaningful tasks and work are essential for their growth and development.