A Farm School Without a Farm

Many wonder why we are we called a “farm school” when we are situated in an industrial park.

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Founded with the intention of helping adolescents grow, a farm made perfect sense to serve as the backdrop. When we began our school in Norwell in 2014, we simultaneously secured a 50-acre former llama farm named “Chapman Farm” in East Bridgewater as the intended location for our school. We were met with many challenges from abutters and decided that Chapman Farm would not be the ideal location for our students to grow and thrive. We remained in a Norwell industrial park, but our name stuck!

While we were involved with the farm in East Bridgewater, we noticed that because of our focus on independence and work ethic, the land, the animals, and the agriculture of a farm was a natural foundation for our school program. We forged partnerships with Holly Hill Farm in Cohasset and Planet Subaru in Hanover to provide our students with regular access to the benefits of farming.

Although we didn’t ultimately land on the llama farm, we kept the image of two llamas as our logo. Llamas, by nature, are strong and loyal protectors. They are misunderstood by many, but are delightful companions. Most importantly, they never forget their friends.

 

Holly Hill Farm Partnership

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Chapman Farm School students visit, enjoy, and serve Holly Hill Organic Farm year round on a weekly basis. Holly Hill is 130 acres of South Shore living local history. On the farm, students have many logical opportunities to learn about agriculture, geology, geography, wildlife, and naturalism.

Through the Holly Hill food pantry gardens, students have the the opportunity to think about issues related to nutrition, social justice, and economics. They also enjoy simple culinary lessons with the freshest produce available.

Holly Hill also understands the value of the simple opportunity to get outside and play. After lessons and working, Chapman Farm School students appreciate the opportunity to build fairy houses, explore the woods, play in the brook, and build a shelter.

 

Planet Subaru Partnership

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Through an unlikely partnership with Planet Subaru, an environmentally-minded car dealership in Hanover, our students have the opportunity to be on the front lines of establishing and maintaining the South Shore’s first Food Forest. A food forest is an ancient farming practice that provides fresh, sustainable fruits for the sustenance of all who pass by, including the animals. The Food Forest is giving Chapman Farm students the opportunity for skill building and service. In addition to the pride that comes with hard work and being truly useful, students are gaining real-life experience with long term goal setting, thinking beyond their own needs, and are seeing first hand the unexpected potential of “random land.”

In addition to the Food Forest, Chapman Farm School was involved with a wildlife sustainability project at the dealership. The students have released 50 bobwhite quail on site, learning about the wildlife history of the South Shore, the positive and negative impacts of humans on the ecosystem, and understanding how simple actions and behavioral changes make a positive difference.