The SSA Farm is an Academy-wide sustainability initiative with plots located at all three campuses. The Farm was born on the far fields of the Senior School campus in 2012, and expanded to include gardens on the Middle and Junior School campuses in 2013.
Goals of the SSA Farm
- Sustainability – To provide fresh produce to the dining halls on all three SSA campuses, and to patrons of the weekly on-campus Fox Chapel Farmers Market
- Experiential Learning – To provide a unique, hands-on learning experience for students in multiple disciplines, including science and economics
- Leadership – To provide a leadership opportunity for Senior School students, and to encourage mentoring of younger students
- Community – To create a community of volunteers with common interests that spans the entire SSA community: students, parents, faculty and staff
SSA Farm Facts
- 500 pounds of vegetables are harvested annually from the SSA Farm plots on all three campuses.
- 75% of the summer harvest is sold at the Fox Chapel Farmers Market; the rest is used by the cafeteria for summer camps.
- 70% of the fall harvest is used by the three school cafeterias; the rest is sold at the Farmers Market.
The Senior School community maintains a 40' x 100' garden on the far fields of its Fox Chapel campus. In the spring and fall terms, students may choose PE Farm as their athletics option and earn credit for working on the farm. Tasks include planting, weeding, watering, harvesting and maintenance, as well as working at the SSA Farm stand at the Fox Chapel Farmers Market. Volunteers tend the garden over the summer.Students have the opportunity to serve as managers of the Farm and the Farmers Market each summer.
- Environmental science students complete a unit on the farm, which includes soil testing, integrated pest management and plant selection
- Biology students create informational pages on types of plants grown at farm
- Architecture students designed a farm shed incorporating “green” building elements
The Middle School garden includes eight raised beds on the school's 35-acre campus in Fox Chapel. In the spring term, students can choose Farm for their athletic/activity option and earn credit for working in the garden each afternoon. In the fall, a student Harvest Committee cares for the garden. Tasks for both groups include planting, weeding, watering, harvesting and general garden maintenance.Volunteers tend the garden in the summer. In 2014, the Middle School won a $2,000 School Garden Grant from the Whole Kids Foundation to fund enhancements to the garden, including gutters for the garden sheds to enable the use of rain barrels and the installation of cold frames to keep the garden growing in the winter.
- Eighth grade science students analyzed soil chemistry before and after cover crops were planted to learn the effects of restorative cover cropping.
- Seventh grade science students planted perennials to attract butterflies, adding Tickle Me plants to observe plant reactions.
- Social studies students used beets from the garden to make homemade borscht as part of a world cultures lesson.
The Junior School garden includes five raised beds on the school's seven-acre campus in Point Breeze. In the spring and fall, students have an opportunity to help tend the garden during recess. Volunteers tend the garden during the summer. In 2014-2015, the school welcomed two egg-laying hens, Snicker and Doodle, as guests on campus in the fall and spring. Students in each grade helped to care for the chickens, assisting with feeding, watering and egg collection. Read more about the chickens.
- Fifth grade math students helped to plan the design of the garden in spring 2013
- Third grade students did presentations on various types of plants to grow in the garden, and the student body voted on which type of corn, bean and pumpkin to plant.
- Spanish classes used marigolds as part of their Day of the Dead celebration.
- The chickens were incorporated into the curriculum in several disciplines, including science, math and writing. Kindergartners completed a science unit on the chickens.