Students from Lorna Fake’s first and second grade class at the Brightfield School for Place-Based Education in Bath are becoming one with their surroundings and community with the help of recent grant funding.
Fake’s eight-person class at the Brightfield School is pursuing a local farms project. Each child in the class is in the process of creating a book filled with information about the farms they are visiting and what they learn from their excursions. Additionally, the class is tasked with collecting ingredients grown at each farm and creating a recipe to share with others at the school.
“Everybody has made a book … each time we go to a farm, we fill out general information; we have somebody who interviews the farmer, and then they record the information and fill it out … Then we come up with our own special information, things that made an impression on us … Then we include a recipe and the instructions,” said Fake, of Newcastle.
The Brightfield School opened its doors for its first school year Sept. 5, 2023, welcoming 23 students spread across grades 1-8. Located on the second floor of the Bath United Methodist Church at 340 Oak Grove Ave., the Brightfield School was founded by a community of parents determined to carry on following the closure of the Chewonki Foundation’s elementary and middle school in Wiscasset in June 2023.
The local farms project is the result of funding Fake received through Maine Agriculture in the Classroom, a program coordinated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to “help students gain a greater awareness of the role of agriculture in the economy and society,” according to maine.agclassroom.org. Maine Agriculture in the Classroom is funded by the Maine Agricultural specialty license plate, grants and private sponsors.
Fake received $1,000 from Maine Agriculture in the Classroom. With this funding, she is dedicated to taking students to visit small local farms in the area, and using the produce purchased from the farms to cook meals for the school community.
The class has visited two Lincoln County farms so far – Morning Dew Farm in Newcastle and Chewonki in Wiscasset – as well as Tender Soles Farm in Richmond, Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, and Six River Farm in Bowdoinham.
Fake said in the spring, students will visit four local farmers markets in May and June and prepare more community meals.
“(Students are) going to work with a buddy, and they get $10 each to go around the farmers market and spend what they think … We’re going to do a community lunch with the third- and fourth-grade classroom and we’ll share what we bought, community lunch with five (and) six, grade eight and the teachers … We thought it would be nice as a sort of thank-you to invite some of the church congregation,” said Fake.
The next stop for the young learners is Straws Farm in Newcastle.
The students said they are excited to visit Straws Farm because when they are visiting, lambs are going to be birthed at the farm, Fake said.
For more information about the Maine Agriculture in the Classroom program, visit maine.agclassroom.org.
For more information about the Brightfield School for Place-Based Education, call 389-4771, email email@example.com, visit brightfieldschool.org, or visit the school on Facebook or Instagram.