Springfield elementary school students trade school work for farm work

The Red Gate Farm in Ashfield is teaching young students from Springfield what it's like to be farmers.

ASHFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)- A Franklin County farm is showing Springfield grade-schoolers how to be farmers.

Students from Samuel Bowles School in Springfield began a three-day field trip at the Red Gate Farm in Ashfield on Wednesday. The Red Gate Farm has been running this program for five years.

“They are responsible for every thing that we do, whether its harvesting crops or cooking, or taking care of the animals, all those things that we would be doing as farmers, they are going to do for the next three days,” said Ben Murray Farm Director of the Red Gate Farm.

The students learned how to work in the barn and a vegetable garden.

“All the work that it takes to get food from where its planted to your table that its just not in the supermarket, but it takes a lot of hard work to do that,” said Michael McCann, Principal of Samuel Bowles School.

“In the classroom you just do work, work, work, work, and here you get to explore,” said Crystaliz Soto, fifth-grader at Samuel Bowles School.

They also had to herd sheep, harvest crops, get firewood, and feed the animals. Besides farming skills, this experience also teaches kids how to work as a team, be independent, and build confidence.

“Waking up at 6:15, having chores having expectations that the cows and animals will rely on you to feed them and care for them. It’s a great opportunity for them to take care of something other than themselves,” said Veronica Tracks, teacher at Samuel Bowles School.

The trip was made possible through donations from several organizations, including the Charles H. Hall Foundation. The Red Gate farm will host students from the Gerena and Mary M. Walsh schools in September.