Fourth-grade Students Get to Dig Their Hands in the Dirt at Crossroads Farm

By Sara Tewksbury

More than two hundred fourth graders from Valley Stream District 13 are going to get a taste of nature this spring when they get to go to Crossroads farm at Grossman’s, the last working farm on the south shore of Nassau County.

Ten teachers from the District 13 elementary schools went on February 23rd to the farm to get hands on training. Leonore Russell, the Director of Education at Crossroads Farm said that having the teachers trained beforehand helps the day run more smoothly when the kids come. The teachers will be going back once more for another training before they come with the students in April.

The farm has been active for over a hundred years, but was at risk when the Grossman family decided to sell it for development in 2007. Nassau County bought the farm in 2009 through the 2006 Environmental Bond Act to protect one of the few open spaces left in the county, according to the Crossroads Farm website. It is now protected from being developed and is managed by Nassau Land Trust, a non-profit on Long Island.

“In the neighborhood, this is one of the most popular spots, even though we’re not open, people can just walk in, take a walk, look at the animals,” Russell said. There will be a community feast in May to eat the food that was planted by the teachers and students.

“It’s good for the kids to know how food is grown and how we do get it from the farm to the table,” Dr. Shirley Martin, the assistant superintendent for curriculum, assessment, and technology for Valley Stream District 13 schools.

Fourth graders were chosen to be the ones to go to the farm because it is already in their curriculum to learn about Native Americans and how food is grown. “It ties in nicely to our curriculum, it kind of brings what they think of to be like things that happened in the past more to modern time,” Danielle Dodge, a fourth grade teacher from Howell Road Elementary School, said. Dodge said that some of the students think that farming is something that was only done in the past and do not always understand that that is still how we get our food.

“The nature connection is very important and children are losing it,” Russell says.