CEDAR RAPIDS – Alyssa Aronson asks third graders at Kenwood Leadership Academy how many have been on a farm.
A few raise their hands.
Previous generations of Iowans often had relatives who farmed, but many children who spend their lives in the city, even in the Heartland, no longer have that connection to rural life.
Aronson, of Crow’s Creek Farm near Springville, was one of several farmers Thursday, May 9, who brought an essence of farm life to school to help fill that void.
Principal David Brandon said about 225 third-to-fifth-graders participated in the activities, which included a “day in the life of a farmer” relay race hosted by students from Iowa Big and sampling black bean salsa made with locally grown food.
North English farmer Jason Grimm, deputy director of the Iowa Valley RC&D, grew the black beans used in the salsa, which also included corn from Iowa Choice Harvest and cilantro from the Millet Seed farm in Iowa City.
Scott Koepke, farm manager at the Indian Creek Nature Center‘s Etzel Sugar Grove Farm, discussed the science behind soil and composting.
Ted Myers, Chad Treloar and others from Urban Greens in Iowa City taught students about hydroponics and offered samples of “baby radishes” — eight-day-old radish sprouts — while Adam Ebert of Ebert Honey answered questions about beekeeping.
Students were able to try their hand at making soil blocks, in which seeds are started, with help from Bryant Mann and Carly McAndrews of Trowel and Error Farm of Iowa City.
Dainese Pridegon, an AmeriCorps FoodCorps member, and volunteers from Feed Iowa First dished up the black bean salsa in the school’s cafeteria. Pridegon encouraged students to try at least one bite, while many went further by asking for seconds.
Related: Tribute to Feed Iowa First founder
See more photos from the Farmer Fair, below: