How we came to be
What we stand for
New Village Farm was founded out of a vision of creating a space where children and adults could experience real connections with nature and farm. We work hard to allow children’s experiences here to be as organic and natural as possible. What we mean by this is that we effort to support children in encountering this outer world from their own values and hearts. We believe that every child is born with their own inner guidance system which we feel it is our work to support the development of. Most environments are run with strictly enforced sets of rules, structured from the outside in. We intentionally minimize rules when we can and instead inform kids of what we think will happen if they touch an electric fence or poison parsnip, without demanding that they not. We believe that childhood is an important time to be building values, not to just learn to follow rules. We educate youth as to what we’d like to see with our guidelines: 1. Take care of yourself. 2. Take care of each other. 3. Take care of the place. (We thank CVU for lending them to us.) We approach discipline from a perspective of looking at which one we may have fallen short on.
Death is a part of life on the farm. We do not hide this from children, animals die here from natural causes, predation, and from slaughter for human consumption. Though we do not play this up or glorify it, we answer children’s questions honestly. If an animal dies here either while we are here, or during the night we attend to that situation together. We give it a full burial sometimes with singing, flowers and a grave marker, sometimes burying it the compost pile to continue cycling life through the farm. We take a moment to reflect, then we continue to move through our day. Sometimes we were the cause of the death, we accidentally ran over a snake with the tractor, or we were too rough handling a frog. We acknowledge our mistake, we apologize if we need to, we celebrate the life and we move on. Slaughter is a bigger conversation, we typically aren’t called to address it at camp, but we answer questions honestly and we do our best to bring as much heart as we can to the topic. We are deeply conscious of the sacrifice we impose on these animals that we eat, and we are repeatedly called upon to revisit and re-analyse it.
Work and Risk
We find that children delight in being included in the work of the farm. They enjoy learning the skills required and mostly take up chores with gusto. We love to watch them build skills and begin to recognize themselves as competent and capable. We believe that contributing to gardens and animals is a confidence builder for most children and we feel privileged to watch them take up the work, and grow their rootedness, their compassion, their strength and their competence. We look to create many opportunities for them to support each other and achieve things without adult help. This involves inherent risks that parents should be aware of. For instance, we might send an eight year old to the chicken coop with two five year olds to collect afternoon eggs. We choose the parties carefully, but a number of things could happen: a rooster could perceive a threat and attack (any rooster that lives here is immediately removed if they shown any aggression, but still), the eggs might be dropped and broken, a conflict might breakout and an argument might ensue, etc. We obviously weigh risks carefully, but ultimately believe there is no growth without risk. We also respond, and address any issues that arise, but in most cases the children return proud of their accomplishment and a little more confident that they can manage themselves in the world and get things done. Over the years we have been so impressed by the big hearted, capable, smart and willing children we have had the privilege to work with. We are blessed to share our summers and our work life with them.
How we work with kids
What you should expect
We approach work with tools
What parents say about our programs