The CROPS Program at the VSDB Educational Urban Farm and the Greenhouse is a prime example of unique programming that fosters workforce development skills and career exploration opportunities specific for children with sensory concerns. Through the program, students are exposed to innovative and exploratory curriculum that ties into academic, nutrition, and workforce development courses. By learning to plant, grow, harvest, and cultivate produce, students gain valuable skills and learn entrepreneurship in a hands-on setting.
The CROPS staff collaborates with VSDB teachers in order to provide instruction in one of two outdoor classroom settings. Translating classroom concepts into physical problem solving increases confidence, develops relationships, allows for self-reflection and provides a physical and emotional outlet for students. In addition, the CROPS Program supports a student run business that raises and sells seedlings to VSDB faculty and staff. Students are involved in the financial management, ordering, inventory, and sale of the seedlings, using the funds raised to purchase additional seeds and materials. The students become fully engaged in the process as middle school students provide peer instruction in planting as they teach other students to grow a variety of produce. Harvesting is also student driven using adaptive equipment to assist students as needed.
At VSDB, the growing experience extends beyond the farm to meal times as the produce appears in the dining hall for evening meals. Harvested produced is showcased at meal times and often a variety of dishes are available for “tastings” so that students can vote on their favorites. The student investment in the food that they have worked hard to grow, facilitates students eating and trying more vegetables than ever before! CROPS develops student’s abilities to make connections between the natural world, their community, and themselves.
The program aims to:
Positively influence student’s attitudes and reinforce learning in the areas of science, math, nutrition, and the environment.
Provide students with opportunities to gain confidence and practice independent life skills.
Academic Concepts Used:
Art Biology Ecology
English Health & Nutrition Math
Science Social Studies Physical Education
History Horticulture Environmental Science