Dinwiddie Farm Day connects students with local agriculture

By: Sherry Williams Kidd | Email: Click Here
Posted: Oct. 15, 2017 | 12:00 p.m. 

DINWIDDIE – Farm Day, 2017, was held on last Tuesday, October 5th, at the Blaha Farm in Northern Dinwiddie.

Farm Day is held yearly throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia and provides second-grade students an opportunity to experience first-hand how farms operate.

According to Marie Grant, Grants & Community Information Coordinator, “Farm Day is undoubtedly the most popular field trip of the year for the second-graders!”

In Dinwiddie, Farm Day is organized and sponsored by the Appomattox River Soil and Water Conservation District, and is the longest-running Farm Day in Virginia, with this year being Dinwiddie’s 32nd year of celebrating Farm Day.

“This event is so important to the Children, and they love it so much. That is why I continue to participate every single year,” Granville Maitland, who has been instrumental in helping with the planning of Farm Day from the very beginning, said.

Students from all five elementary schools across Dinwiddie traveled by bus to the Blaha Farm, where they were immersed in agriculture and day-to-day farm life with exhibits, demonstrations, displays, and hands-on interaction and exercises.

At our first stop of the day, we were met by Art Kirkby, and he was showing soil profile levels to a large group of the enthusiastic students. He carefully and meticulously described each level; the top-soil, bedrock, etc. When Mr. Kirkby asked the students, “Are you guys glad to be out of the classroom and here on the farm today?” The resounding roar of the enthusiastic and unanimous “YES,” could be heard at least a country mile.

Sara Cravath, District Administrator/Education Coordinator, Appomattox River Soil and Water Conservation District, which coordinates Farm Day said, “I feel that Farm Day is so important to the Children because many of them have absolutely no concept or sense of how a farm works, or the importance of farms in all of their lives.” She also said, “We even have a puppet show given by our Dinwiddie 4H Kids that explains how the soil relates to one of their typical lunches.” The name of the skit is “Soil Made My Lunch.” She said, “The puppets explain to the Children that on a regular peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, the bread, the peanut butter, and the jelly all originate in the soil.”

Sara also pointed out that, “Many people may not consider the importance of soil, dirt, or water; but it is never too early to begin learning and practicing conservation.” As she points out to the many students in the schools she visits, “It takes between 500 and 1,000 years to produce one-inch of top-soil; so in our lifetimes, we won’t be getting any more new soil—or water for that matter.”

Sara Cravath was kind enough to escort my husband Rodger Kidd and I around to the many other goings-on on the farm. Our next stop was to observe students engaging one-on-one with farm animals. To say they were ecstatic would be an understatement. You could hear the joy and glee in their voice, and it was clearly evident on their small faces. David Roberts, Dinwiddie Elementary School Principal, said, “These Children love seeing these animals up-close—some of them for the very first time. Many of the Students just look in awe, but some actually go up to pet and touch them. They are so happy.” The animals, such as the chickens, the miniature horse, and the trained German Shepard were provided by Khamrada’s Hope, LLC at Cockade Stables, LLC. The calves were provided by Richlands Dairy Farm.

The late-fall day was pristinely beautiful, crisp, and clear. The unbridled enthusiasm and joy in so many little voices was enough to melt your heart. Farm Day was a resounding success and covered so many different aspects of farming. Activities, exhibits, one-on-one interactions, and exercises included: farm animals (always a huge favorite), K-9 unit (Dinwiddie Sheriff’s Office), aquaculture (Virginia State University), farm equipment and technology, Alvin Blaha soil trailer, students made a soil profile tube (layers of soil), Dinwiddie Master Gardeners (Extension Office), beekeeper, crop production, Department of Forestry, and Southside Electric Co-op.

“The planning of Farm Day was coordinated with Virginia’s Standards of Learning for second grade, and is truly a favorite field trip for students as well as for all of us that contribute, coordinate, and help put it on every year,” said Dan Lee. Lee is a Conservation Specialist, Appomattox River Soil and Water Conservation District. He is also a member of the Dinwiddie County Board of Supervisors, District 4. Lee said that prior to his employment with the Appomattox River Soil and Water Conservation District, he was raised and worked on a dairy farm. “We used to bring cows and calves to Farm Day long ago,” Lee said. Lee is still a part-time farmer these days, and you can clearly hear the pride and love for farming—and Farm Day–in his voice!

Copyright 2017 by Womack Publishing
Photos: Rodger Kidd
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