Three years ago an administrator at Shady Side Academy noticed there was no market near the school’s location in Fox Chapel. This motivated the school to host a Farmer’s Market.
Two years later, stemming from the school’s commitment to sustainability, the Shady Side Academy Farm was planted.
The farm is managed primarily by students and is successfully integrated into the school’s curriculum. Rhonda Schuldt of Local Goodness explains the roles that students play in the farm and the market.
She says while administrators are always present at the market and throughout the farm, students are increasingly making the project their own.
“They are absorbing information rather than being taught,” Schuldt says, adding that teachers have found unique ways to integrate the farm with their curriculum. Students in science classes do soil testing, one art class is designing a shed for the land based on green design principles, students can chose a “non-sport” option in their Physical Education classes where they hoe and till the land and in the summer, the school offers internships for the market and the farm. The food from the farm is also used in the school cafeteria.
“There are some very practical things and I think it’s the application of what they’re learning in their academics and how that translates into the real world that goes far,” Schuldt notes.
Shady Side Academy has been translating the lessons of the farm to the younger elementary and middle school campuses where they are planting some smaller versions of the high school farm.