While the Turlock Unified School District Farm has served as a place of learning, growing and opportunity for students of all ages this school year, the community will soon have a chance to join in on the fun thanks to the first annual Harvest Festival.
The district is inviting students, staff, faculty, families and other Turlockers to the District Farm for the first-ever public event at the site, which has grown to serve as an agricultural hub for TK-12 schools throughout TUSD. According to Laura Brem, the district’s Coordinator of Applied Horticulture and Environmental Studies, the farm’s first Harvest Festival will allow community members to experience firsthand the wonders of TUSD agriculture, from picking out student-grown pumpkins to snacking on sweet treats created by students from crop-harvested goods.
“A lot of people we’ve talked to say that they’ve driven right down Taylor Road and didn’t even realize the farm was there,” Brem said. “We want them to come see the farm and see where their kiddos are going on school visits.
“We’re opening the door for everyone to know they’re welcome at the farm and we’re excited to have them.”
The afternoon event will feature pumpkin and almond-flavored snacks handcrafted by the Culinary Arts and Foods classes from Turlock and Pitman high schools, Brem said, and attendees will have the opportunity to purchase pumpkins for $5 or less. Students planted the seeds for the pumpkins this past spring when they visited the farm on field trips, she added, and families can choose from a wide variety of shapes, colors and sizes.
“Pumpkins have gotten expensive, so we wanted to make sure that kids have the chance to be able to afford a pumpkin, enjoy it and feel that excitement that we all enjoy around Halloween and fall,” she said.
Harvest Festival attendees can also take pictures in a photo booth, play in a hay maze, compete in cornhole and more.
This year, TUSD has committed to incorporating the farm into every class. Brem began overseeing the farm in July, and has since brought students of all ages out to the farm to learn about farming techniques and methods, all while relating back to the lessons they’ve learned in class.
While many children who attend TUSD schools have seen or been on a farm before, many have not — including their parents. While the TUSD Farm has provided those students with the opportunity to experience farm life firsthand during, the Harvest Festival will give parents and others the same chance.
“Although we’re in an ag community, we have so many students that have never been on a farm before. We’re hoping those families come out because we want those that live in town to come see the animals and have an experience that they would never have otherwise,” Brem said. “We’d like them to walk the farm, see what they’re kids are doing out here and see the opportunities that are provided for students.”
Any money raised from the sale of pumpkins will go right back into next year’s crop, hopefully providing fun for future Harvest Festivals. It’s Brem’s hope that the newly-cleaned barn on the farm and the ample space provided at the location will soon be home to even more community get togethers, like FFA fundraisers or other events.
“We want as many people in our community to have access to the farm as possible,” Brem said.
The TUSD Farm Harvest Festival will take place from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 13 at the farm, 625 E. Taylor Rd. If you are interested in participating or supporting the festival, contact coordinator Laura Brem at email@example.com.