Learning to farm one day at a time

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GENEVA, Ohio – Youth in northeastern Ohio know how it feels to be a farmer. For a day anyway.

Nearly 100 children from Lake, Geauga and Ashtabula counties participated in Spring Hill Farm Market’s Farmer for a Day program this year. The program ran on four separate days throughout the summer.

The temporary farmers planted mini pizza gardens, made rain sticks, fed animals in the petting zoo, made their own lunches, took a hayride, went fishing, milked pretend cows, made butter and played agricultural bingo.

“I think it went really well,” said Farmer for a Day coordinator Hope Swank. “We’ve had nothing but positive comments from the parents.”

Fishing contest. During each session, the farmers competed to see who could catch the biggest fish. Samantha Gerred won the Aug. 15 contest with her 11-inch catch.

For lunch, the farmers made their meal from food grown in Ohio or food made from Ohio products. The menu included peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cheese, grapes, cookies and milk.

In the petting zoo, the children fed corn to goats, ducks and chickens and petted the miniature horses.

To make a pizza garden, the farmers planted peppers, onions, oregano, tomatoes and other pizza ingredients.

Although this was the first year for Farmer for a Day, Swank said there will be another program next year.

Come one, come all. The one-day farmers come from a variety of backgrounds. In the first session, Swank said she had 26 children from inner-city Cleveland.

“Everything was new and they were excited,” said Swank, who enjoys watching the children explore agriculture and discover new talents on the farm.

Farmer for a Day came about as the result of a Project Food, Land and People committee. Project Food, Land and People is an organization designed to educate students about agriculture, environment and people.

Spring Hill Farm Market has been in operation since 1953. Apples, grapes, peaches, plums, sweet and sour cherries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and Christmas trees are grown on the farm market’s 200 acres.

Volunteers. Others who helped with Farmer for a Day include Amy Knisely, Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District education specialist; Patty Gerred, Master Gardener; Jim Welker, Ashtabula County Soil and Water Conservation District education specialist; Vicki Domonkos, Geauga County Soil and Water Conservation District education specialist; Katy Worbs and Ryan Worbs.

Western Reserve Resource Conservation and Development Council, Ashtabula, Lake and Geauga Soil and Water Conservation districts, Project Food, Land and People, and Spring Hill Orchards and Farm Market sponsored this year’s Farmer for a Day.

For more information about Farmer for a Day call 440-350-2061.

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