Tales from the Farm School

It’s a beautiful day at Crotched Mountain School. The clouds have long since rolled out, leaving behind an expansive clear, blue sky. Birds of prey zigzag on the horizon.

You stroll past the school entrance, heading towards the glass-faced structure of the Media Center. As you walk, you hear a mix of sounds: clucking and cawing and crowing. You draw closer to a greenhouse, tucked behind an array of brilliant wildflowers.

Eight foot tall sunflowers reach skywards. Garden hoses wind around the flower beds like green, coiled serpents.

The whole area is abuzz with life–plant and animal alike.

You’ve arrived at Farm School.

If you want to walk towards the animals CLICK HERE

If you want to investigate the greenhouse CLICK HERE

If you want to check out what the group of students are doing at the picnic table CLICK HERE

You are drawn toward the cacophony coming from the across the road. You see fences and small buildings. Children are mingling nearby, holding buckets and baskets to collect eggs. It is obvious there are chores to be done today and the students are eager to oblige.

In one pen, turkeys and ducks hang out together. The ducks quack away as they splash in the small plastic pool, while turkey hens dawdle nearby. A few brave ones saunter up to you, nosing their beaks into your hand, checking if you’ve got food.

You notice one turkey in particular, a large male with an odd gait. He appears to be the tom of the flock. You wonder what his story is…


You enter the greenhouse. The temperature spikes at least ten degrees. Besides warmth, the other notable sensation is the smell: dirt and earth, maybe a hint of decay. It’s organic.

Regal tomato plants stretch from floor to ceiling, heavy with green orbs that are just now flirting with the concept of ripening.

Smaller seedbeds in plastic trays line the shelves. Sprouts are emerging from the soil, no doubt the result of a disciplined watering routine. This place is teeming with the activity of life, lush and green.

You notice a few Crotched Mountain School students enter the greenhouse. They pick up their watering pails, fill them from the nearby sink and begin doing their rounds. Tipping, pouring, quenching.

You see that many aspects of real-world skill-building are at play here: motor skills, rule-following, patience, punctuality, respect, mindfulness and, of course, witnessing the very real fruits of one’s labor. You nod to yourself, impressed. It’s the complete vocational package.

That’s when you see the Farmer’s Market sign. Farm School has taken their wares to nearby Peterborough.

If you want to jump in your car and drive to the Farmer’s Market CLICK HERE

If you want to walk towards the animals CLICK HERE

You walk to the picnic table just in front of the greenhouse where several students, teachers, and staff are huddled. Matt Nevins’ class has come to Farm School and they’re working with Farm School teacher Caitlyn Hatzell to make their own pickles.

Everyone gathers around as Caitlyn takes them through the process, soaking the Farm School-grown cucumbers in brine and adding the special mix of Crotched Mountain herbs and spices.

You try a sample–delicious!

If you want to walk towards the animals CLICK HERE

If you want to investigate the greenhouse CLICK HERE

The story goes: Before Ralph there was Tom. And Tom wasn’t the nicest turkey you’d ever find. He was irritable and ill-tempered. Just a high-maintenance turkey all around. He was sent to another farm.

Word came down that a friend of Crotched Mountain had a turkey she was willing to donate. Beth Simpson, Farm School Coordinator, and two students hopped into the pickup one day and drove thirty minutes to the farm. There they met Ralph. Gentle, friendly, and laid-back, the perfect turkey for Crotched Mountain School. Working together, Wyatt and Colby, the two students, guided Ralph into the cge, hefted it onto the pickup, and everyone drove back together.

That afternoon, Ralph was introduced to the flock, where he assumed the new mantle of “tom,” where his duties included the occasional aggressive gobble to keep predators at bay and, when the mood grabs him, do his part in making some new turkeys.

You give Ralph a polite nod, silently welcoming him to his new home. He looks at you with typical turkey indifference.

Say, what’s going on over at the greenhouse?


You pull into the main parking lot of Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough, NH. You follow the signs for Fresh Chicks Farmer’s Market, a weekly fixture in the summer. You park and walk over to the market, which reveals a parade of tents, housing local vendors peddling their home-grown goods.

You find the Crotched Mountain Farm School tent. Beth Simpson, the Farm School Coordinator, is overseeing the operation, flanked by several students. In front of the crew is a vast arrangement of tomatoes and beans and kale and cucumbers and summer squash the color of the sun. It is quite the spread.

“I like harvesting vegetables,” Lang, a Crotched Mountain School student says to you, as he organizes the produce. “But today I’ve really liked communicating with the public because I’m trying to work on that kind of stuff. I’m also able to work on math skills and speech and budgeting.”

Impressed, you happily open your wallet and purchase enough fresh vegetables to fill your trunk. You bid farewell, climb back into your car and drive back to Crotched Mountain School. You hike the accessible trails, munching on a delicious cucumber. It’s been a good day.



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