Smart, Affectionate & Youthful

FarmerJawn desires to reinvent urban agriculture education and learning

FarmerJawn is organizing a plethora of instructional programming to confront the difficulty in all age teams.

Barfield and Ritter are on the lookout into a homebound program for older individuals and those people with disabilities who might not be equipped to leave their properties.

They are by now doing the job alongside groups like PowerCorpPHL to aid young grownups.

And they also have a college-based mostly application in conjunction with students from Cheltenham High Faculty who research and operate as interns. The challenge-primarily based understanding also enables for seniors in the method to occur to the Elkins Estate two times a 7 days and support run the CSA software.

Countless numbers of seedlings within the FarmerJawn at their Elkins Estate farm, in Elkins Park, Pa. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Karen Shaffran is a longtime teacher in the Cheltenham University District and a few several years back she shifted from instructing in Cedarbrook Middle University to instructing at the superior college.

By way of conversations with the new superintendent at the time, Shaffran arrived to a realization that the extra she found about undertaking-dependent understanding, the much more it seemed like her “sweet place.”

So, the district decided to experiment with the altered learning program.

“At the identical time that we were being on the lookout into how we could bring venture-primarily based studying to the district, we were being approached by a donor who had some heritage with us. He had scholar-taught at the higher faculty, and he has a family members basis that was fascinated in viewing if we would type of go all-in with job-primarily based discovering, and he would fund the professional improvement of a cohort of academics to form of see that as a significant university,” Shaffran stated.

She was a member of that team of academics and they ended up sent to a faculty district in San Diego that has been using undertaking-primarily based learning in grades K-12 for about 15 a long time. They bought a operate down from the staff members on their activities and decided to utilize it in Cheltenham just for 9th graders.

And as the learners progressed in grades, the venture would increase with them.

Now, in year five of the software that “functions like a faculty within just a school”, project-primarily based mastering is accessible for all high faculty students.

“We’ve completed all sorts of matters, but certainly a fan favorite has been this partnership with FarmerJawn,” Shaffran claimed.

College students have been integral in the exploration and design and style system for the farm at Elkins Estate. They self-selected teams and assisted design and style various areas of the FarmerJawn setup. From the greenhouses to the possible for a goat enclosure, the pupils envisioned something specific.

Shraffran to start with received related with Barfield in the 2021-2022 college calendar year just after examining about her former farming undertaking in the space. She was capable to get two college students placed at the room that she was at. Even so, FarmerJawn was likely by means of a rough patch and experienced to shift her operation out of Cheltenham Township.

It was not right up until Shaffran was going on a stroll with her son that they identified the developers in demand of Elkins Estate had been open up to accomplishing company and sharing the house. So for months devoid of Christa’s information, Shaffran experienced discussions with the builders and was in a position to support FarmerJawn uncover a house there.

“People now really like Christa as a human becoming and her mission and to truly then be equipped to get clean, nearby organic create, the two from a usefulness standpoint, but also as … a reduction of environmental effect that our food items is likely to be grown locally,” Shaffran mentioned. “To have that as an case in point of entrepreneurship, of caring for the planet, of a woman owning a enterprise, everything about it — it’s these kinds of a gift to us and to me as an educator.”

Barfield and Ritter currently have a large amount on their plate, but they’re wanting to roll out a finish itinerary of school-centered programming in the coming calendar year.

Nonetheless, Barfield does not want to depart everyone out.

“When we have our volunteer days for individuals that just want to come in on the times that we do them, hopefully after a month that will get more regular, people are fantastic opportunities for one particular-offs for people today that just want to come see what we’re doing and get their arms in some filth,” Barfield mentioned.

Ritter would like people to know that the motto is “agriculture is the culture” and he’s hoping that with amplified visibility, FarmerJawn’s nonprofit can address better societal troubles.

“Our supporters and associates genuinely assistance us make this get the job done come about. And also, we have some incredible men and women who are looking to fund this terrific operate for the reason that it does take revenue to keep the lights on, if you will. So I’m grateful for all of people people, and we just seem ahead to continuing our good programming,” Ritter mentioned.

Members of PowerCorpPHL do the job with FarmerJawn at their Elkins Estate farm, undertaking tasks such as tilling, raking, and planting, on April 5, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

When FarmerJawn’s Greenery is obtaining its grand opening on Earth Working day at its storefront at 6730 Germantown Avenue, its nonprofit is continue to a work in progress and is still less than enhancement. Vegetation are currently increasing in the greenhouse in planning for its initial CSA set for June 1.

Nevertheless, Barfield will be internet hosting diverse occasions on the assets shortly in the meantime to elevate dollars for the nonprofit.

She will take pleasure in staying a Black girl possessing a company in a house that she hopes will be a catalyst for other Black folks to get started their personal adventure in farming.

“Our nonprofit is truly, seriously revving up and gearing up to make a huge effects in this local community,” Barfield mentioned.