The gray clouds and drizzle did not dampen the spirits of fourth graders from the Lake Champlain Waldorf School (LCWS) as they hammered, measured, and sawed at New Village Farm (NVF) on Wednesday, April 30. While the students always enjoy Farm Days, this one was particularly special.
Nearly six months ago, the students’ study of Vermont and Native American history culminated in an overnight stay at NVF, where they slept in the unfinished barn they helped to frame when they were in third grade.
Over the winter, the kids kept their connection to the farm—and thought a lot about that unfinished barn. “We have a weekly class meeting where we discuss ways that we can help each other and our community,” explains teacher Meredith Markow. “The children unanimously decided that they wanted to do what they could to help the Farm and complete the barn.”
The class chose to run a pay-what-you-wish bake sale, and they put their study of fractions to good use as they prepared farm-to-feast treats. The children asked customers at Shelburne Supermarket and the Waldorf School to donate what they could in exchange for cupcakes, cookies, and other treats. Thanks to the generosity of the community, the class donated $1,031.63 to NVF.
Shelburne’s Michaela Ryan, the head farmer and founder of NVF, used the funds to buy siding for the barn. Ryan and NVF builder Nirmag Leggett designed a kid-friendly building technique so that the children could participate in the process of applying the siding. “The kids did such an amazing job raising the funds,” said Ryan. “They deserve to be a real and integral part of the finished project.”
Last week, Markow’s class gathered at the barn and learned how to measure, cut, and nail the siding into place. “The kids will do the inside layer without us having to worry about the aesthetics of the odd bent nail, hammer dent, or slightly imperfect cut,” explains Ryan. “The wider finish boards will go over this inside layer, covering any flaws, and the kids will come back again to help screw these outer boards into place.”
For the rest of the school year, the young builders will be making weekly visits to NVF to work on the barn and study the farm animals. “I am so grateful to Michaela for what she has gifted back to the children,” reiterated Markow.