We sold 106 engraved bricks and raised $8480 for our alpaca farm!
THANK YOU to everyone who purchased a brick for our Learning 4 Life Farm alpaca barn sidewalk to help build our job training alpaca farm for young people on the autism spectrum. Thanks also to all those who helped get the word out about our campaign!
With your support we are on our way to completing farm construction this year - barn electric, plumbing, well, septic and HVAC, pastures and fencing for our alpacas.
Thank you again to everyone who has purchased a brick and to all our donors and supporters - let's build this farm!
Check out the video below for details on our planned sidewalk from installed Terry Lindsay of T&N Lindsay's Landscaping:
Our hoop house raised beds are in! Unheated hoop house greenhouses, also called high tunnels, are an affordable low-tech way to garden year-round. Over three workshops and a series of volunteer days, we built 30 4x8x1 foot raised beds in our new 36x90 foot hoop house for accessibility and higher yields.
Students worked with volunteers and staff to build the raised beds, using a power saw and power drills. The workshops provided an educational opportunity for 29 teens on the autism spectrum ages 13-18; 8 staff, and 9 community volunteers participating in the three day-long raised bed building workshops, and a chance for parents and volunteers to support students on the autism spectrum.
Learning 4 Life Farm Board President Dr. Rick Baltisberger led the teams of students, staff and volunteers in building the raised beds by his own simple design using 2x6 boards, 4x4's and 1x4's and deck screws. Students had a great time trying out the power saw and mastering the use of power drills. Donated materials from MAC Construction, topsoil and hardwood mulch donated by Kurtz Bros, the loan of a front loader from Fackler Kubota Tractor, and a grant from Autism Speaks made it all possible.
Students and volunteers started seeding the beds as soon as they were filled with soil, and by late October we had radishes, lettuces and more growing nicely, with harvests throughout the winter and spring vegetables and flowers ready to get an early start in Spring 2022.
Check out the great video below for more action and details from our volunteers:
We're growing here at Learning 4 Life Farm - FLOWERS!
From day one our kids have really taken to cutting flowers and arranging bouquets, and this year we did our first “test plots” of zinnias and sunflowers for cutting. The bouquets were a huge hit at our BarnRaiser Open House in July, and our staff and kids love cutting fresh bouquets every week at TLS North East - the classrooms are full of vases of blooms these days. We even harvest wildflowers from our field and tree lines - they make great habitat for our bees and other pollinators and they look great in our bouquets.
We are excited to focus a big chunk of our market gardening efforts on cut flowers as we add a 1.5 acre market garden over the next few years. As a value-added market crop with a much higher return than vegetables, we know that sale of flowers, produce and farm products at our on-site farm stand, online shop, farmer’s markets and subscription customers will provide revenue to support farm operations and a chance for our students to gain valuable work experience and social skills.
We're learning as we go and it's exciting to be part of the growing Slow Flowers movement, providing sustainable locally grown flowers to our local community. Stay tuned to purchase our gorgeous bouquets - coming soon!
This spring we started a beekeeping program at Learning 4 Life Farm! The kids love helping Beekeeper Bob Hooker with safe, simple beekeeping tasks and learning about the hive.
Check out the cool video below showing the process of installing our first hive complete with bee facts, student questions and phase one of our “Name the Queen Bee” contest (Beatrice? Bubba?) plus a great writeup by one of our students.
Our student beekeepers got an education in what happens when a newly established hive decides not to accept the queen this spring. This happens in a small percentage of new beehives purchased from a kit with workers and a queen, and unfortunately it did happen to our new hive. The female worker bees started laying unfertilized eggs which hatch into thousands of male drones! Apparently the worker bees hope a drone will be able to fly out and mate with a queen from another hive, passing on the hive genetics. Our solution: start a new hive with a new queen and worker bees. Interesting and educational experience, though, and we had fun taking care of this first hive even if it is doomed. Plus, our Directors Ms Jill Frazier Medley and Brynne Howitt Artim got to try their hand at beekeeping that day!
In June we brought in a new hive to replace our queenless drone factory. The hive is doing great and the bees are raising babies and making honey. Our old queenless hive is still doing surprisingly well and we even harvested a little honey! At the end of the summer we’ll harvest a lot more.
Thank you so much to Beekeeper Bob Hooker and Mary Hooker for donating the hive and creating our honey bee program for our students on the autism spectrum here at the Farm and TLS North East - Johnstown.
NBC 4 Daytime Columbus featured Learning 4 Life Farm as part of their April Autism Acceptance Month coverage. Learn more about our Farm program and meet some cuddly alpaca friends in this great video piece with NBC 4's Robin Haynes.
We're excited to share Learning 4 Life Farm will receive two Sponsor-A-Hive (SaH) native bee houses from The Bee Conservancy. We’re thrilled to join The Bee Conservancy's global community dedicated to protecting bees and their habitat.
Designed with sustainability, bee health, and user-friendliness in mind, the bee houses are constructed with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified, sustainably-sourced pine. The houses are manufactured by Brooklyn Woods, an organization that trains unemployed and low-income New Yorkers in woodworking offering some graduates one of the first paying jobs of their careers.
During Spring 2021, our SaH Award Kit will arrive with:
We'll be installing the bee houses in our established 3600-square-foot rain garden outside the front entrance to The Learning Spectrum Northeast and next to our new 1800-square foot rain garden on the edge of our soon-to-be alpaca pasture on our job training farm site.
Thank you so much the The Bee Conservancy and their Sponsor-a-Hive supporters for their award and their continuing commitment to sustainability and the health and protection of our bees! Sponsor-a-Hive is generously supported by Texas Roadhouse, Zarbee’s Naturals, Scout & Cellar, and The Salomon Family Foundation, Manitou Foundation, Con Edison, and The New York Community Trust.
For more details on The Bee Conservancy, Sponsor-a-Hive, or to apply to receive a hive for your school or organization, check out thebeeconservancy.org
If We Build It, the Alpacas will Come - Our Farm Construction Timeline We’re breaking ground this year on our job training alpaca farm for teens and young adults on the autism spectrum!
By Dr. Mary Salmon, TLS Senior Director of Education, Learning 4 Life Farm Advisory Board Member Founding board member and staffer Dr. Mary talks about the need for employment programs for young people with autism, alpaca therapy, and her own love for this project.
This past November, Learning 4 Life Farm’s Program Coordinator Amy Hurst was given the 2019 Educator of the Year Award by the Licking County Soil and Water Conservation District.
The first TLS Turkey Trot was a big success on Nov 9, 2019, with 50 participants, raising over $1000 for The Spectrum Store and Learning 4 Life Farm. Thanks to everyone who participated!