Organic Farming Lesson at Middle School

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Elizabeth Keihm, executive director of acclaimed organic growers Homecoming Farm, paid a recent visit to home and career skills teacher Rena Costello's classroom at East Islip Middle School to talk about what it means to be an organic farmer, and explain the benefits of eating locally and supporting local farms. Keihm discussed such concepts as companion planting, intensive farming, natural insect pest control, the use of humus and the Native American tradition of the growing the “three sisters” (corn, beans and squash). She also provided an interesting array of vegetables for the students to examine, including unusually colorful heirloom vegetables.

Now in its 16th season as a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) organization, Homecoming grows more than 100 different vegetables on the Amityville property of the Sisters of St. Dominic. The popular CSA idea enables consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer, purchasing a “share” and receiving a weekly box or basket of seasonal produce during the farming season. Homecoming has been certified as organic by the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY), and continues to pursue its goal of helping students and other local groups “grow as responsible members of the universe through projects and programs which promote mutually enhancing human/earth relationships.”