"The most resourceful solution is the most poetic solution." -Greg Strella
Great Kids Farm is owned by the Baltimore Public School system. It is a growing resource for nutritional and agricultural education. Eventually Great Kids Farm will provide food for cafeterias that will cater to the students of Baltimore Public Schools.
At Great Kids Farm our class was able to interact with the chicken, goat, bee, and greenhouse systems that thrive on the young farm.
In fact- chickens, goats, and bees are just three of the fourteen living systems on Great Kids Farm which also includes small fruit, vegetables, and mushrooms.
Greg Strella, our guide at Great Kids Farm, explained how the harlequin bug disrupts the food chain on Baltimore farms.
Baltimore's warming climate has allowed the harlequin bug to migrate north leaving its predators behind.
Until the harlequin bug's predators move north the harlequin bug remains unchecked in Baltimore.
In order to save their crops from devastation Greg and volunteers on the farm spread organic fertilizers but finding and crushing the harlequin bug eggs by hand has been the most successful pest control on Great Kids Farm.
Great Kids Farm started with a flock of 50 chickens. In the future they plan to build a more portable chicken coop/trailer that can move around to public schools. For now, Great Kids Farm has an impressive coop for their chickens. The coop is surround by a fence that keeps the foxes out but lets the chickens run around.
Most chicken meat that is sold in stores and restaurants originate from eight week old chickens. After chickens turn two years old their egg production slows down and they are killed.
Two year old chickens are normally called stock chickens because they are used in soup.
I was very sad to hear about this as the chickens were very friendly and let me hold them.
Miranda showed me how if you turn a chicken upside down it will get sleepy.
Farmers replace their chickens after two years because it takes more energy to keep them alive than the chickens can return.
Some of the students in the class are interested in starting a "Chicken Club" at MICA. I hope that this happens because it would be nice to have chickens and fresh eggs.
During my time at Great Kids Farm I worked with several other students building shelving for beehives. The shelves were very beautiful. Everyone was impressed with the artificially combed beeswax. In order to make the uniform hives for the bees to produce honey in manufacturers process the beeswax roll it out and press a new comb print into it.
Many of the students expressed interest in learning beekeeping.
Greg Strella explained that this is a very practical and profitable hobby to keep in an urban environment. For one, cities have extended bloom season, and as Baltimore is on a harbor- it is even more extended because of the cooler temperatures near the water.
My sparked interest in bees got me talking to several people that I know.
-My friend Emma Steinkraus' parents keep bees and they were able to procure a special breed of bees that are very gentle.
-I learned that a swarm of bees will follow the queen if you capture the queen in a jar from my father's coworker who had a thick swarm of bees in her front yard.
I also learned that if a bee is full of honey it won't sting.
For those interested in taking a class in beekeeping the Central Maryland Beekeeper’s Association offers beekeeping classes in the spring (March/April):
The Oregon Ridge Nature Center (Where the beekeeping class by CMBA is held) has a lot of great programs this summer
For those interested Greg Strella is always excited about new volunteers. Me and some of the other kids from class are going to make some educational games for the children that come to work on the farm.
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