On a normal day for Maclay’s Nutrition and AP Environmental Science (APES) classes, the students would be sitting behind desks taking notes or doing an experiment. However, on Friday Nov. 12, these two classes got to take their learning outside of the classroom and attend a field trip at Tallahassee’s Orchard Pond Farm and Ayavalla Ranch. From 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., these classes were able to see organic, sustainable agriculture and food-producing practices that they’ve learned in the classrooms.

Having just finished a unit about agriculture where students learned about growing crops and raising livestock, the field trip served as an opportunity for the APES class to see the practices they have learned and apply them to the real world. For the Nutrition students, the trip gave them the chance to see how necessary and healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables and meat were grown.

“Although we learn about agricultural practices in class, I think it is easy to forget that these are real life things that are happening to grow food that we actually eat,” APES teacher Kristin Kline said. “So I think it is important that we get the opportunity to see these things firsthand.”

After 1B was over, all APES and Nutrition students reported to the Webster Center, where they boarded the bus and headed to Orchard Pond. Certified as an organic farm, the staff at Orchard Pond took the students on a tour of several of their crops such as strawberries and radishes. Some students were able to take a bite of the freshly grown food, including tomatoes and grapefruit. At the end of the tours, students were given time to buy food and merchandise from the farm store, and enjoy their lunch under the sun. 

“I think there is a pretty big difference between learning about sustainability and actually seeing ‘Ok, what is this in practice?’ because there are compromises that have to be made in that,” Orchard Pond Kitchen Assistant Lauren said. “I think that learning how it actually works in the ground, in reality [and] in real time is really important too.” 

After their time at Orchard Pond came to an end, students once again boarded the bus. Instead of returning to school, the two classes headed towards their next destination: Ayavalla Ranch. When the bus arrived at the cattle ranch, Owner Tim Phipps surprised the group by having the bus pull over on the side of the road. From there, Phipps led the students through a portion of the grounds where the cattle were currently grazing. Students were then able to observe the cattle being herded from one part of the grazing grounds to the next sectioned off land. After hearing Phipps discuss the way the ranch is operated, along with a few failed attempts at petting the cattle, the students once again trekked through the grazing grounds and returned back to school.

“I think it was really important to just have firsthand experience compared to just reading it in the book,” senior Lily Strickland said. “We’re actually kind of learning a lot about it, so when they were talking about things I felt like I understood what they were talking about, and what they’re doing is obviously important.”

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