I remember, as a child of three or four, walking on the land our family made home, where my mother was born. To me the land was vast and went on forever. There was a path through the field, beaten down by the many footsteps of my siblings, cousins, and neighbors. Venturing off the path wild strawberries grew at your feet. My father had many woodlots on this land and I can still smell the scent of
his chainsaw and the sawdust it created. In the winters we rode in sleds down the hill, aiming for the opening in the stonewall that led to the next field. The meadow where my great-grandfather grew corn that he would sell at the city market is where my husband and I chose to make home and raise our family. And today I walk daily with the children of my home-based program, Little Farm School, on this land, carrying our seeds of hope to build a new home for us to continue growing in.
Little Farm School, LLC is a LifeWays Representative program located in Limerick, Maine. Opening in 2011 at the homestead of the Graham family, Little Farm School is a farm-based program offering full time care to children ages 2-6 as well as Farm Camps for school age children in the summers.
Little Farm School began when director, Mary Graham, looked to bring quality childcare to her community while raising and homeschooling her own children at their family’s farm. Sharing seasonal life on the farm naturally became our curriculum as we sank deeper and deeper into the land we were embodying. In Spring we welcomed baby chicks and goats to the barn and chose where to plant each seed in the garden. In Summer we frolicked in the tall grasses of the meadow gathering wildflowers and herbs to feed the growing chicks and goats, enjoyed the milk the mama goats shared, and pulled weeds in the garden to allow space for our harvest to grow. In Autumn we gathered the harvest from the garden, collected seeds for the next year’s planting, tucked bulbs into the earth before it froze and created warm spaces inside the barn for the animals there. And in Winter we sank into the deep rest the season provided and dreamt of the next cycle of seasons. The rhythms of the farm and the seasons of the natural world held us all throughout our days as each of us grew. Living on family land has brought us many blessings of extended family to share our journey with-in the form of daily walks to deliver eggs to Mimi and Great Aunt Nancy, visits with Auntie who lives over the stonewall and sings songs to us as she returns home from work and helping hands from cousins across the street.
The Little Farm School community has continued to grow over the years, and we are now ready to move into a bigger space…where we can welcome more children and families to share our days with, host community events and learning circles of study and skill shares, share resources with parents and families and invite more of the community to grow alongside us. And so, with these seeds of hope in our hearts, we build, step by step, a new place to call home to Little Farm School.
Construction on our new facility began this Autumn and we are so very blessed to be able to witness the process unfold and build up as members of our community come forward to share their skills and talents! We visit the building site daily to witness the project there. We walk the paths we worked on during the Autumn months and cross the bridge we made using scraps from our new schoolhouse building project.
We have watched the foundation cure, the supporting walls erected, and now the protective roof has been raised. What a treasure this experience has been to share with the children and families pioneering this project with us! Step by step, slow and steady, we can feel our seeds of hope beginning to swell. With each passing day, and the many hands of our family and community tending to our growing vision, we can feel our seeds of hope cracking open and bursting forth with sprouts, strong and hardy. May these sprouts nourish the souls of all who come to work and play at Little Farm School for generations and generations!
Working with the LifeWays philosophy was a sort of coming home for me. So many of the practices resonated with me at such a deep level, mimicking the beautiful childhood I was blessed to have, and connecting me to the rich ancestry that I come from. LifeWays inspired me as an individual, which inspired my parenting, my relationships and how I wanted to show up in my community. I feel a deep connection to this approach to fostering human development and feel blessed to be a steward of this. I feel deeply that this work is what will inspire humanity for generations to come and I am honored to use our family land to bring this gesture forward.
Learn More about Mary and Little Farm School at their website www.thelittlefarmschool.org
If you are considering the possibility of becoming a LifeWays Representative working out of the Living Arts, we are excited that we have just made the process much easier. You can read about it on the website HERE.