New farm school
Help create a unique farm-based Steiner School. We believe a rich, nature based learning environment is an ideal place for children to develop their many capacities and abilities.
We want all children to have the best chance to become the caring, creative, successful, and unique human beings they were born to be. We believe community supported, nature-based Waldorf education supports each child to develop their gifts and capacities.
Children who spend time outdoors are happier and have better health, educational, social and emotional outcomes. In addition, children who play outdoors develop a love for the natural world and a willingness to protect what they love.
Students at the new school will have indoor and outdoor classrooms, they will spend time in nature everyday. We focus on meaningful projects that support the curriculum and teach team-work, resilience, respect, and observation. Our outdoor classroom program combines therapeutic, educational and social benefits to students.
Outdoor activities support core subjects such as; reading, writing and math, plus new opportunities, such as “Farm to Table”, tool making, building, clay work and animal care.
We will put our values into action and teach by example. We value cooperation, inclusiveness and community empowerment. We value a respectful and regenerative relationship with nature, and a clean healthy environment. We value beauty and celebration.
Parents and supporters are involved in planning and developing the farm using biodynamic principles. Concept plans have been drawn-up for a new school campus and planning permission has been granted. The farm is already a focal point for the school community and a place to meet, work and celebrate.
We are creating an educational farm as an exemplar of restorative land management. Biodynamic farming treats the farm as a living organism to be honoured and nurtured. The students and farmers who work the land are then rewarded with healthy organic food.
Our 13.6 hectare (33.6 acre) farm is a mixture of rolling hills, flat pasture, shelter trees, gardens, fruit trees, streams, and a lake. It has a long history of sheep grazing and fruit production which have resulted in low biodiversity and low fertility. We have begun the slow process of restoring biodiversity and fertility through biodynamic management. We do not use pesticides, herbicides or petrochemical fertilizers, and management practices increase soil fertility and biodiversity. All organic waste is composted and returned to the land.
The new farm-based school will be unique in New Zealand with its restorative approach to farming and buildings that create positive social and environmental benefits. Students and families will be involved in these activities through the school curriculum and community support. Many Waldorf schools around the world incorporate farming and gardening and we will draw on this pool of experience.
Community Supported Agriculture
We are developing Community Supported Agriculture to engage the wider community in protecting productive land and to supply organic produce to families and members. 6 hectares of good farmland is available for productive farming.
Honouring the land and restoring nature are core values for us. We are guardians of this land together with the manawhenua iwi, Ngāti Rārua
and Te Ātiawa. Together we are committed to protecting the mauri (life force) and wairua (spirit) of this land and water. Twenty percent of the farm is being set aside to protect natural values, including a one hectare spring-fed gully that is being replanted in native trees. One day this will be a small forest with a stream and ponds. Steeper slopes are also being planted with native trees and a wetland will be restored.
We are encouraging low impact transport by building a cycle trail that connects the farm to existing cycle trails. It will be possible to cycle off-road the 4 km from Motueka township to the farm.
All our farm water needs come from our lake, spring and well. Rainwater will be collected from buildings. Wastewater will be treated and used onsite. Storm water will be directed to ponds and nature strips to be filtered before entering water ways.
We plan to use grid-tied solar power as this is the most low impact and socially responsible option in New Zealand. Grid power in New Zealand is 80% renewable energy. During school holidays our solar power will be fed back into the grid. Rather than invest in our own batteries, that are energy intensive to manufacture, we prefer to pay for a grid connection because a cost effective power grid is a social good for all New Zealanders.
The local climate is notable for high sunshine hours, long summers and mild winters. Buildings will be designed to maximise the solar advantage and natural ventilation. Outdoor classrooms will be places of beauty and inspiration.
Our preferred building materials are wood, earth and straw. Building clay is available on the farm. We will minimise toxic materials such as CCA treated timber. Construction will be light-earth infill with timber framing and floors. Building design will reflect our core values and aim to be places of inspiration.
The development aims to be nett carbon positive and lock up more carbon than was released during construction and running. Key elements will be the use of straw and wood in the buildings plus tree planting and the long term increase in soil carbon. Materials with high embodied energy, such as concrete and steel, will be minimised. We hope to find funding to document this aspect as a case study.
An opportunity exists for a cluster of dwellings on the farm where people working on the farm and school can live and deepen their connection to the land. Two dwellings are present but additional dwellings will require planning consent and infrastructure.
Background to the project
Our vision to become a farm-based school grew from many seeds. The lease on the current building was due to expire in December 2015. The lease has now been extended but with less security. We have also out-grown the present, rented, site. The old hospital building is both too small for our needs and it is in poor repair. Class sizes are restricted due to lack of space and the outside area does not offer enough to our active and creative pupils. We see a growing need for communities to be more supportive, inclusive and resilient. We see a growing need for people to connect to nature, food and each other. We see a growing need to support the health of children and families through a living enhancement of the senses so that we can all better meet the demands of modern world-developments, in constructive and conscious ways.
Friends of farm school
Put yourself in the picture and join the team that are creating a very special school, farm and community. Friends of Farm School are wonderful people who are making it happen by contributing time, money and skills. Friends are part of the school community and receive updates and invitations to festivals and events. Join Friends now.