The SSA Farm is an Academy-wide initiative, with plots located at each of the three campuses. In June 2012, the SSA Farm was officially born when student, faculty and parent volunteers planted a 40’ x 100’ vegetable garden on the far fields of the Senior School campus. In spring 2013, the farm expanded to include eight raised beds at the Middle School campus and a small, circular permaculture bed at the Junior School campus.
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 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
Spring and Fall PE Farm students earn academic credit in physical education for working on the SSA Farm. Tasks include planting, weeding, watering, harvesting and maintenance of farm structures, as well as working at the SSA Farm stand at the weekly Fox Chapel Farmers Market in the 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
- In fall 2012, architecture students designed a storage shed/outdoor classroom incorporating “green” building elements
Spring PE Farm students earn academic credit in physical education for working on the Middle School's SSA Farm, similar to the Senior School PE option. In the fall, the Harvest Committee takes on the role. Tasks for both groups include planting, weeding, watering, harvesting and general garden maintenance.
- Seventh grade science students planted perennials to attract butterflies to the newly built garden, also adding Tickle Me plants to observe plant reactions
- Sixth grade social studies students harvested jalapeno and red peppers, using them to decorate the classroom while discussing the changes made by the Columbian Exchange
In the spring and fall, students have an opportunity to use some of their recess time to help tend the garden. Parent, student and faculty volunteers tend the plot during the summer months.
- 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 the Day of the Dead celebration