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Children Receive Hands-On Learning At Moyer Farm
LOU ANN GOOD
Lancaster Fanning Staff
FRYSTOWN (Lebanon Co.)
One hundred and forty third
graders showed up at Jessica Moy
er’ s fjarm recently. Nine-year-old
Jessica, who is also a third grader,
generously shared hercatPumpidn
with the visitors.
But the children did not come to
the Lebanon County farm merely
to play. They came to leant about
soil, plants, animals, water, natural
resources, and even possible
Students planted a garden after a
short lesson about plants needing
sun, water, food, clean air, and soil
in which to grow.
“Call this soil. It is not dirt. Dirt
is what your mother sweeps off the
kitchen floor. Soil is what we grow
plants in,” said John Falter, Berks
County extension agent, who
(aught a class on plants.
He talked about the different
ways that plants can be grown in
the garden such as planting seeds,
bulbs, and starter plants.
Falter then gave each child a
piece of sprouted potatoes. “These
are not rotten,” he said when some
children complained of the wrin
kling potato skin and the long,
straggly sprouts on them.
Falter showed the children how
to stretch a string from end to end
in the garden as a guide to dig a
straight row. Each child planted at
least two potatoes in one of the
groups. Some of the other groups
planted peas, beans, or onions.
The students planted tiny petu
nia seeds in a flower pot. They
look the containers back to the
classroom where they will watch
the plants germinate (sprout
through the soil) hopefully.
“The problem is that too many
people plant the seeds too deeply.
They complain that it was bad
seed, but actually it wasn’t,” Falter
said. Only a sprinkling of dirt
should be scattered on the seeds for
“Run your fingers through the
soil and see what you can find,”
Jed Vail told a group of children
when boxes of soil were placed in
front of them.
“Ugh, I found a worm!” some
“Ugh, ugh—here is a piece of a
worm,” another one said.
Worms, roots, and organisms
help keep soil healthy so plants can
grow. That’s why farmers plow the
cornstalks into the soil, it is a
washes away topsoil.
I, Saturday, May 14, 1994
method of fertilizing or feeding the
The soil is made up of three
parts sand, silt, and clay.
Jed showed the children how
water runs through these. When he
poured -water on a jarful of sand,
the water ran straight through it
and the sand collapsed. That’s
because sand holds very little
moisture. The water moved slower
when poured on the silt, and with
the water stayed setting in the clay
because clay holds all the water.
“We need the right amount of
each of these —sand, silt, and clay
in the soil to hold the right
amount of moisture so the plants
do not dry out,” Jed said.
Amy Phillips taught the children
how to do a sediment test. Each
student received a small jar, which
they partially filled with soil. After
warm water was poured in the jar,
the students screwed on the cap
and shook the jar. The jars were
left set for awhile. When the stu
dents checked the jars later, the
clay had settled on the bottom with
pans of plants floating on the top.
A demonstration on soil erosion
showed how soil that is sloped
washes to the bottom when it rains.
That’s why plants, trees, flowers,
should be grown in the soil to keep
it from washing away. Farmers
also plow hilly land horizontally to
keep it from washing away.
The children were divided into
groups that rotated between seven
different 40 minute workshops.
To one group gathered in front
of the bam for the Caretaker of
Animal workshop, Ralph Moyer
asked, “Why is every one holding
The odor from the 240-head
dairy herd was a bit unusual for
many of the children, but Moyer
assured them that if they came to
the farm everyday, they wouldn’t
even think about the smell
“Cows probably eat belter than
you or I,” Moyer told the students.
“We often eat what we like, not
what is good for us.”
Cows, he said, are fed nutritious
feed that has been carefully
analyzed at a lab to make sure that
it contains adequate amounts of
minerals, vitamins, and all the
things cows need to remain
People like to eat each of their
foods separately, but cows need it
grinded and mixed together, other
wise, cows would have a tendency
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iow how erosion
r.. -- W
One hundred forty students from Tulpehocken Area School District helped plant a
garden at Ralph and Crystal Moyers’ farm In Bernvllle.
Nine-year-old Jessica Moyer shows off her cat Pumpkin to classmates.
Soil is made up of sand, silt, and clay. This experiment shows how the combination
of ail three composites are needed for the soil to hold the right amount of moisture for
plants to grow.
,A^ v i