Fifteen students were accepted into the Cecil Farms Academy this year, where they will learn about the farming experience from seed to sale. Suzanne Cecil White, who developed the program, says that she hopes to give students the farmer’s experience to food production rather than the consumer’s experience that they would be used to.
The 15 children that signed up for the Academy range in age from 6 to 15, five of which are in the Saturday program and 10 in the homeschool program that meets during the week.
The program will take place over 10 months, with one session per month focusing on different aspects of farming — food production, pollination, soil, conservation, agricultural technology and more. White also believes that the Academy is a unique opportunity to provide kids with public speaking, team building and life skills.
“This will be a true farm experience,” White said. “They will be coming out here [to the farm] 10 times. We will go beyond that surface level and this will be something the kids really remember.”
White says it is important to know where your food comes from, but it is equally important to connect this generation to being on a farm. White explains that this is the first generation that hasn’t experienced farm life or some connection to it.
“When a 12-year-old comes out here and plants some seeds and says, ‘this is so fun!’ you know you are doing something right,” White said of the first day of the Academy.
Jodi Eckbundit signed up her 15-year-old daughter Isabelle for the Academy. After picking up her teenager from the farm, Eckbundit said Isabelle loved the program.
“She wishes she didn’t have to wait a month until the next [Academy],” Eckbundit said.
White, who taught high school for 10 years in Bowling Green before returning to her family’s farm, said the program is all based on connection — connection to the land and the food the children eat, but also connection to each other in a relationship-building environment.
“And it’s always fun to get your hands dirty,” White said.