Spring Has Sprung in the Schoolyard




As snow and sun taunt us with their cunning arrivals and quick fadings, we harbor hope for the new growing season. We honor the newfound light. We can smell the snowmelt’s sonnet to the soil, reinvigorating life deep within as we cast our wishes for a vibrant and bountiful season. There is a renewed energy and a busyness in spring that invigorates our work and the land itself. The children have been engaged with garden preparations and practical tasks in all manners of spring weather; building the garden infrastructure with wood, stone, brick and fiber, moving and amending soil, spreading mulch, learning about seed propagation and plant care, painting our signage , and continuing the animal care taking and chores. Children celebrated the spring equinox by noticing the arrival of robins, trees budding out, the bulbs we planted in autumn peeking through, and the longer hours of light. We also harvested our first crop of lettuce from the dome, that the fourth graders had planted before winter break. Third graders took it around the school, so everyone got a taste. It is this community spirit of sharing in the harvest that allows us all to reap what we have sown together, practically, as well as metaphorically.

First graders explored the use of plants for color and made shibori stick dyed flags for their playground using natural plant dyes and continue to focus on tool safety and garden etiquette. Second graders have centered on the “winter” life of the soil and process of decomposition through story and work, as well as planting many seeds. Third graders have been taking care of all the newly planted seedlings, as well as working together to finish filling beds and mulching the garden, with an emphasis on proper soil building techniques. They also made, labeled and filled, all the seed packets for our fundraiser 3 sisters “thank you”, with the help of 6th grade. Fourth graders learned about the sun’s position, using the maypole as a guide, noticing the position as it changes throughout different times and the affect it has on growing crops. Fifth graders built the west bed inside the dome and planted a fig tree in the middle bed inside. Sixth graders explored seed dispersal mechanisms by designing their own “seeds” from a variety of recyclables, as well as learning about vegetable families. Seventh graders are finishing their sensory garden areas, deciding on which plants to incorporate,  and building structures for those areas, as well as creating a giant loom for our community.  They also wrote
letters to local businesses asking for specific donations, many of which we have received and we are grateful for. Soon, you will see many garden signs in English and Spanish throughout the garden, as 7th graders integrate their Spanish and ag arts class over the next month.

All grades have been assisting with caring for our newly sprouted seedlings, our dome plantings, and the emerging bulbs and perennials outdoors as well as patiently awaiting the time to plant more, which is THIS WEEK. The garden has become a place where the concept of community is brought to life through the recognition of relationships that lie within it- where students are aware of each other’s efforts, can identify and problem solve when something needs attention, and share joy in a moment, whether with a worm, bunny, chicken, seed, plant, or pile of soil. Student’s celebrate each other’s successes and together we are mindful of our challenges as such remembering proper tool care, respecting our peers and teachers, and following through with our best effort. Agricultural Arts is unique in that there is time for sharing and getting to know one another on a  deeper level as we work. There are many moments of storytelling, discovery and awe happening  during our time together. Thank you for sharing your children with us. We are blossoming!

xo, The Farm to Fork Team


Here is a glimpse of our early spring semester:









A Peek into Fall Semester 2015



This year, the staff decided not to include a narrative from specials teachers into our formal report cards, so we’ve decided to post ours here so you can see what your children have been up to in Agricultural Arts.

~Cheers, the Farm to Fork Team

Fall Semester 2015

1st Grade: (Mrs. Ellington) Our focus has been on exploring the farm by getting to know the plants and animals who call it home, thus creating a reverence and sense of place. First graders have been introduced to the farm through various seasonally appropriate stories this semester. One of their favorites included The Turnip, where after the story, they acted out the story by pulling out our turnips all together and tasting the greens.  Children have come to love the animals and appreciate assisting with caring for them. There have been many opportunities for children to work on their communication and cooperation skills as well. Some of our favorite activities this semester included planting a variety of bulbs that will emerge in the spring after listening to the story of the Root Children; along with hunting and digging for worms (even in our pj’s), building fairy homes from found natural objects, collecting eggs, making bird seed treats for our feathered friends. Students also observed and noted the many changes occurring in the garden over the course of the changing seasons. As spring emerges, we will continue to focus on seasonal changes and rhythms, farm chores, cold season plant propagation and care, exploring beneficial insects and creating garden art.

2nd Grade: (Ms. McCabe, Ms. Carson)  Second graders begin their Agricultural Arts class with a verse and story related to the seasonal life of the garden and farm. There is an emphasis on learning the proper tools to use and store, animal care, and shared chores. We are learning to identify edible plants to pick for Cooking Arts class.  Tied to story, we planted narcissus bulbs in compost beds and created faery homes with found natural objects.  We made a vermiculture worm house which sprouted pumpkin seeds! They enthusiastically take turns searching for laid eggs to wash and take to Cooking Arts class.  Second graders filled the air with milkweed seeds to spread the Monarch Butterfly habitat in our neighborhood. As our growing season approaches they will experientially absorb the connection to their food from compost to seed to harvest.


3rd Grade: (Ms. Lang/Corey, Ms. Gordillo)Third grade has been focusing on the many uses of plants in human culture and the role of the farmer. This semester, third graders have also been busy with practical farm work, participating in the many chores and coming to understand the hard work that it takes to care for animals and plants over the course of a fall and into winter. Students explored the process of preparing raw wool for dyeing. They participated in washing, rinsing, drying, carding, and dyeing the wool. They then took their finished wool to their classrooms to be used in handwork projects. Some students harvested peppermint, tansy, and sage from the garden that were used in one of the dye baths. The colors and smells of the varying dyes inspired a variety of surprising and animated responses. Students also enjoyed the opportunity to build fairy homes using found materials to coincide with their shelter block. We went searching for compost critters, comparing our findings and discussed their role in decomposition. Because third graders enjoy an extra period of ag arts each week, there was plenty of extra time for  soil studies, collecting seed to use in the spring while exploring the importance of seed saving, harvesting pumpkins for the nature tables, filling raised beds and planting winter wheat and rye cover crops while learning a planting verse, stringing marigold garlands for Dia De Los Muertos, making chicken treats for Winter Faire and most recently assisting with building the dome beds, recognizing and following the pattern needed to lay stone for a strong wall. As winter wanes, students will be painting our new chicken coop, as well as exploring the role of pollinators in the garden, preparing the soil for planting, seed propagation and care, and discovering the process and project of building a cob oven.(our intent is to engage all grades and the larger community in this unique opportunity as well).

4th Grade: (Ms. Cedeño) The fourth grade focus is on local geography, native plants and animals. They explored garlic and the many uses associated with it, as well as learning about garlic folklore across cultures. They then had a lesson on planting garlic and and using their measuring skills, amended and planted a 4×10 ft. bed to be used in Cooking Arts next year. We then shifted our focus on native plants that produce green dye; smelling, touching, drawing and labeling the plants that the third graders had harvested. Students also participated in macerating the plants and preparing one of the dye baths to dye cotton muslin with a mordant  to be used in their handwork. After dyeing, each group’s cotton came out slightly different, so it was interesting to infer why that happened. There was much teamwork involved in harvesting the last of the fall crops for cooking arts and clearing the beds for winter. Students discussed cold season crops and planted a bed full of winter greens in the dome(which have become Snowball treats) and sawed wooden signs to label the plants. They also learned  about the monarch life cycle while spreading milkweed, and exploring the concept of the Native American three sisters garden while creating 3 sisters seed packets to take home. We will soon begin studying seed propagation and care , identifying the cardinal directions  and discussing the role of the sun in growing crops and focusing on incorporating native plants into the garden.

4th Grade: (Ms. MacClaughry) Fourth Graders have focused upon native plants and geographic features while attending to garden and farm chores and animal care.  We emphasize observation and have used the sun to determine the cardinal directions. They planted bulbs and created a vermiculture worm house. We collected and made ‘take home’ seed packets with Giant Grey Stripe sunflower heads, explored their origin and use by people worldwide.  We measured their circumference, examined the ‘Golden Ratio’ pattern of the seedheads and estimated the number of seeds based on row numbers and multiplication. Fourth graders dyed muslin for their handwork bags with specific herbs and alum mordant.  After Winterfaire, we made wreaths to take home discussing their cultural significance in Europe.  We will soon begin cold season plantings, seed propagation and care, and a ‘native plant’ garden.

5th Grade: (Ms. Palmblad) Fifth graders this semester have focused upon seasonal ‘metamorphosis’ of plants within the larger organism of the garden and farm.  Delphinium plants and seeds were packaged with depictions from the Greek myth and saved for the planned ‘pollinator’ garden. Native Michaelmas daisies were picked and pressed.  We strewed milkweed pods after a study of the Monarch Butterfly cycle and the threat to their life cycle via habitat destruction and GMO’s.  Fifth graders collected and macerated herbs specific to make dye for the fourth grade handwork cotton and wool projects.  Snow gave some of them the opportunity to saw blocks for an igloo foundation.  Students made wreaths from discarded Winter faire evergreen bows and we examined their tradition in European/Celtic culture. There is a focus on weekly cooperation, stewardship of the garden/school grounds, and a developed work ethic for shared chores and animal care: most recently, priming the bare wood on the new chicken coop and brick wall building in the dome.

6th Grade: (Mr. May) Six Graders this semester have been exploring the farm and it’s role of a “living organism”. We began the semester with learning about how to care for the animals and students do so enthusiastically each week. We then transitioned to focusing on compost, searching for the decomposers and discussing and comparing each group’s outcomes. We also learned about the materials needed to create an ideal “compost cake” and how to “layer”our piles properly for the most benefit, and discussed the greater benefits compost offers to plants and the environment as a whole. Students took down the sunflower patch, using the stalks and leaves to create new piles. We then moved into exploring soil by taking different samples from around the schoolyard and comparing the contents of the differing layers, as well as discussing what soil is composed of on the farm and in nature. Students drew the phases of the moon and we discussed appropriate garden tasks associated with those phases. Students also learned about the healing properties of calendula and made calendula salve for Winter Faire. They enjoyed making wreathes from leftover boughs from Winter faire, adorning the garden and taking them to many of the classrooms. Sixth graders also focus on recognizing the “human” in each other each week by taking time to recognize their peer’s efforts in the areas of teamwork, cooperation, problem solving and kindness. Spring semester will include painting our new chicken coop and exploring the seed and it’s unique qualities and structure, cold and warm season plant propagation, companion planting, exploring pollinators, and general garden care.

7th grade: (Mr. MacDonald) 7th graders have taken a leadership role on many levels this semester by participating in every aspect of “farm life”. They have completed many building projects, sharpening their math and critical thinking skills while using a variety of tools and supplies to do so. Over the course of the semester some of their projects included creating 2 new beds near the rabbits using rocks and a handmade mud slip, repairing the chicken coop and run, making a compost sifter, putting together our hose cart, sawing chalk boards for the kindergarten area, and repairing fencing and signage. They have also begun exploring the principles of garden design while creating designs for  the “sensory spiral” portion of the schoolyard. They then came together to discuss  ideas, collaborate and compromise, and vote, thus creating a final plan. This will continue to be a main focus for spring, in addition to propagating seed for those plants to be used. In addition, students explored the subjects of soil composition, compost, and seed saving, as well as caring for farm animals each week. This semester, we will continue to build structures for the garden, finish painting the new chicken coop, while also exploring seed propagation and care, proper tool cleaning, and putting together all the elements of the sensory spiral.

Volunteers Needed!


We need a few good folks! The Farm to Fork Team is expanding. There is much to be done and we can’t do it alone.

Mission: The Mountain Song Farm to Fork Committee is devoted to supporting the MS Farm to Fork program through active engagement and by bridging connections within the school and larger community, thus carrying out the charter regarding our program.

Donations (2 volunteers) :

Responsible for outreach and follow up to local businesses, obtaining a variety of specified items to support the garden and ag arts curriculum. This would include sending a Thank You Note and communicating with business office to ensure donation letters for tax purposes are sent out promptly following a donation.

Grant Writing/ fundraising:(2 volunteers)

Working with the farm to fork team, these folks would be responsible for locating grants, compiling and submitting information as needed to comply with deadlines, and providing follow up as needed. They would also work with Dan in the business office to ensure monies were allocated for and tracked accordingly with cooperation from the farm to fork team.

Special Events: (2 lead volunteers)

Lead the Farm to Fork program in providing or working with local partners to hold events on site for students and/or the greater community related to nutrition, farming/gardening, plants and their uses, animal husbandry etc. (Past events have included beekeeping, natural plant dye workshops, biodynamic garden workshops, Pikes Peak Farm to School Tour etc.)

Locate Events and recruit volunteers/ or staff to attend special events where MS Farm to Fork should be represented and/or involved.

Plan and implement a Harvest Festival for 2016 school year in coordination with the farm to fork team. Ideally this would take place in late September around the beginning of fall, possibly coinciding with Michaelmas and in coordination with the PC festival committee and Farm to Fork team as needed.

 Agricultural Arts Volunteers: (1 Consistent volunteer)

 *Thursdays, 10:45-11:30

Assist with implementation of agricultural arts curriculum, working with students, leading an informal lesson/station in basic practical gardening activities as needed, and making sure children are maintaining a safe area through proper use of tools.

Summer Team(2-4 volunteers):

(from the charter) Summer Enrichment: A continuation of our rich arts-integrated academic programming will be offered for a fee for 8 summer weeks to children ages 6-16 through engaging sessions with a heavy emphasis on agriculture and cooking arts, nutrition, and whole body wellness. This enrichment will not only be open to our school community but to the greater Colorado Springs community, budget development for summer enrichment will include funding for a scholarship fund

Plan, Coordinate, and advertise summer enrichment opportunities related to ag/cooking arts, including workshops, summer camp, family cooking days, etc. for MS families and/or community at large in coordination with the Farm to Fork team. Locate volunteer support as needed. Lead volunteer “family farmer” organization to cover additional garden care as needed. Organize summer garden maintenance days (1-2 per month for June, July, August)

If you are interested in helping, please contact us at :

Kirsten Young, All Things Farm: farm@mountainsongschool.com

Elise Bowan, Ag Arts Teacher: ebowan@mountainsongschool.com





Follow us on our journey as we move through the seasons, creating a farm to fork experience for Mountain Song students on our little parking lot turned paradise!

During the fall semester, as flowers crinkled, the trees shed their last leaves, insects took cover into crevices, and all the helpers of the plants nestled down to the roots and the soil, our focus in ag arts turned inward as well. We harvested the very last of this season’s crops, using pumpkins for class nature tables and for our autumn dance, afterwards returning them to the compost for treats to keep our chickens free from parasites. We were also busy collecting seeds from the many flowers and herbs adorning the garden including cosmos, marigold, cardoon, and echinacea, morning glory, cilantro, and calendula. Many hands were making handmade seed packets to be used as needed later in the year. Students also brought the last of the edibles inside to use in cooking arts.  Eggs were used for pies in cooking arts and the first graders boiled them for snack one day. Our hearty girls kept laying right up to winter break. Bedding was piled deeper as jack frost visited more often. We did much tidying, raking, mulching, and organizing, taking time to build and repair as needed.We also welcomed a new friend, Snowball the angora bunny, to the farm.

Our goal for this year is to build a formal school agricultural arts curriculum that follows the season’s natural rhythms, incorporates waldorf principals, and supports standards for each grade. In traditional waldorf schools, farming was not taught until 6th grade, beyond the third grade farming block. We are incorporating a balance of practical work , blended with garden lessons and projects that promote collaboration, problem-solving, and creativity. So far, we are well on our way and have implemented these elements into our current and ever evolving curriculum.This year we are focusing on supporting the students in taking ownership of the farm as theirs. We feel that actively involving children in decisions of the farm help them value their own role as leaders and collaborators, creates a sense of stewardship, and reinforces the concept of responsibility. The schoolyard will always serve as a place where wonder and reverence are valued and central to our approach. The children’s enthusiasm for all things farm has been a source of inspiration to me as their teacher. So come along with us, as we journey down the garden path together……..

xo, Ms. Elise