Down by the river
Families can get their fun on at the River School Farm
The River School Farm in Reno doesn’t just grow food. They connect with it.With an emphasis on organic, locally grown food, the farm seeks to provide the community with a product that's more nutrient rich than anything found in a grocery store.
However, they believe that to be successful, people need to see where their food is grown and how to grow it themselves in a high desert climate. This process begins with families.
“We are so disconnected from where our food comes from and it is something so simple, yet so vital,” says Monique Monteverde, River School Farm Director. “Families can come here and show their kids where our food comes from. These plants grow out of the dirt, and we think of dirt as dirty, but here we like to show people that dirt is the soil that feeds plants that feed us.”
Every Friday through the summer is Farm Tour Friday at River School Farm and everyone is welcome, especially families. First, visitors have the opportunity to observe the bees that make locally grown honey. A beekeeper shows families a beehive and pulls out a frame for them to look at while learning about the process.
Being an urban farm, River School grows food in small places like raised beds, tunnels and hoops that are protected from Reno's weather. Tour guides take families through these growing spaces and show children how the food at the farm is grown.
Another important aspect of growing organic food in the high desert is through compost soil, which is then put into landscapes.
“We have a compost pile that kids love digging in for worms,” Monteverde said. “We want to show families how they can integrate compost into their own yards to help them build their soil and grow food.”
Monteverde says one of the most exciting parts of the tour for children is seeing and petting the animals. Tour guides open the nest boxes of the chicken coop so that kids can check for fresh eggs. Next, families are shown a friendly goat that they are allowed to pet and feed.
“It's great to show kids that while we are still in city limits in Reno, an urban farm is still possible,” Monteverde said. “It has a country feel, and they get that experience of meeting our chickens, petting our goat and seeing how food grows.”
Another component on the farm for families is the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program. Families can become members of the Summer Farm Share and receive a weekly box of fresh organic produce.
“Growing local gets people engaged, it gets them connected to the Earth, their soil and the community,” Monteverde said.