“Are we there, yet?” was a question asked both earnestly and in jest by some riders of the 3 Habersham County School buses as they chugged east along HWY 76. These buses were full of 150 sixth graders from Wilbanks Middle School on their way to Chattooga Belle Farm thanks to the sponsorship of the Habersham County Farm Bureau.
On a beautiful May morning, students were greeted by farmer and owner Ed and Kitty Land. They were then divided into 6 groups which rotated through 3 different learning stations in the morning and 3 more stations after a break for a lunch.
In the main event facility, Farmer Land gave students a brief history of the farm and a quick tour of the 23 different fruit trees and bushes raised at Chattooga Belle.
Students worked off some energy by running a muscadine vineyard relay. While running, the teams counted the number of posts in their row. This number was then used for a series of math calculations done to determine the total production weight of the 12-row vineyard.
A brief walk down the hill brought student to the cider house. Students gained hands-on experience feeding and cranking an old cider mill and press. This was followed by taste testing the pressed cider while learning about the modern equipment.
Students rocked and rolled on a covered wagon ride to the farm’s lake. The water that flows off of the farm feeds the lake, which is then pumped back up the hill to irrigate some of the fruit crops.
Students learned a bit about the pervasiveness of corn in our modern food products and then had the opportunity to create their own corn products. They selected ears from last year’s harvest, shucked it, and then used different grinders to strip the kernels, crack the kernels, and grind the ever smaller bits of corn into grits and then sift it into corn meal.
With a full day of active learning at a beautiful and fruitful farm behind them the bus ride back to school didn’t seem nearly as long.
To learn more about Chattooga Belle Farm, visit http://www.chattoogabellefarm.com.