Our volunteer house is situated on a small farm in the community of Munoz, which is the same community where one of our grassroots schools is located. In 2016, we received a grant from Davis Projects for Peace to be used toward a community agriculture project and agriculture education. We found a small farm to rent in the area with a two bedroom house on it. We entered into a long term rental contract. We ended up moving our volunteer house to this location as well and built a second house on it in order to house groups.
In August 2017, we housed our first group who ran a camp on the farm. Throughout the camp, a pig pen was constructed and an old outdoor kitchen was converted into a bird cage. This began a project that has come to be a favorite among our students, teachers, and volunteers! We now have a variety of plants on the farm, pigs, a horse, two donkeys, goats, chickens, guineas, parakeets, fish, turtles, the farm dog Lucy, and rescue dogs that we foster. One local man has a garden on the property and another has pigs.
We also have a small greenhouse, a compost, and recycling bins. When volunteer groups come during the school year, rather than bringing groups into our schools as we have in the past, we bus kids on field trips to the educational farm. Volunteer groups plan and execute hands on lessons with a theme, building on themes taught by previous groups, or reiterating what has been taught, if time has passed. Pretty much all groups give a refresher on proper trash disposal and recycling!
We also enjoy sending kids on treasure hunts or scavenger hunts around the farm. During the summer of 2020, farm field trips replaced summer English camp, which was canceled due to covid-19. Most of our students go to ride a horse for the first time this summer. We finished each day by finding all five classes of vertebrates on the farm (fish, reptiles, mammals, birds, and amphibians), and looking at ants, fingernails, blades of grass, etc. under a microscope.
It is common to hear at the end of a field trip that students who normally dislike science when taught in school have seen science come to live that day! “I don’t usually like science, but I did today!”
If you are interested in volunteering at the educational farm, please contact Volunteer@EsperanzaMeansHope.org. We are hoping to someday set up an aquaponics system and teach about simple machines and other cool STEM topics!