Day 1 :
Embark on your outdoor education adventure
- Arrive in Illinois:
Departure from your home city via plane or private coach.
- Farm stay in Northern Illinois:
We will arrive at a rural farm in Northern Illinois to learn about the farm to fork movement. The farm has a Learning Center, promoting local food and farm systems through experiential education. For the next three nights, our base will be in dormitory style housing at the farm. Breakfast will be served each morning at the farm.
- UN Sustainable Development Goals:
Recently, the United Nations has targeted the Farm to Fork method as a way to meet their first and second Sustainable Development Goals - No Poverty and Zero Hunger. In 2020, UNGA President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande emphasized that "agricultural policies are development policies" and called for the adoption of a "food systems approach" within the international policy framework for sustainable agriculture by encompassing all the activities involved in bringing food "from farm to fork." This week we will examine how this is accomplished.
- Daily reflection and group discussion:
"We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience" - John Dewey On every evening of the program, we will set time aside to update our Reflection Journal and share thoughts and impressions that have come to the fore in the course of the day.
Day 2 :
How Does Your Garden Grow?
- Today’s focus:
How does the farm ecosystem work? How does the season affect what happens at the farm?
- Farm tour:
After a farm fresh breakfast, we will tour the farm. The hands-on introduction to the farm emphasizes connections within the farm ecosystem - from fields to forests to barnyards. In the winter, tours will focus on temperature, snow cover and climate change.
- Break for lunch:
Today, lunch at the farm is included. All farm lunches over the next few days feature local, fresh organic ingredients.
- Life on a farm:
We will be immersed in farm life through meaningful agricultural projects that build skills, encourage teambuilding, and meet the needs of the farm. Offerings are seasonal and designed to meet the skill level of the group.
- Learning about livestock:
Livestock is vital to any farm. Humane livestock care contributes to the healthy ecology of the farm. Opt for a general introduction to the farm's menagerie of livestock, or request an in-depth experience with goats, chickens, bees or cattle.
- Communal dinner:
Tonight, dinner is included. At the farm, meals feature freshly harvested organic produce. The meat is sourced from animals on our farm that lived well and have been treated fairly. Cows graze on a diet of chemical-free grass and are an active part of the farm's sustainability.
Day 3 :
- Today’s focus:
Today's focus is on preparing healthy, local, artisan food. We will learn how to make cheese from cow's or goat's milk! Depending on the season, we will learn how to make cornbread from the ground up or identify and prepare wild edible plants. In early Spring, we might instead participate in the activities surround the goat kidding season.
- Questions to consider:
How is local and seasonally dependent food different from shopping at the local supermarket? How can you prepare high quality locally sourced meals at home?
- Cooking competition:
A friendly cooking competition rounds out the day. Vegetables, fruits, and wild edibles change with the calendar, providing new combinations throughout the year. We divide into teams for this friendly competition. Chefs make a soup and salad, providing a perfect opportunity to eat seasonally, be creative and work together. Teams receive farm fresh ingredients and create their own dish before the clock runs out.
After dinner together, we’ll have some time to reflect on the day's activities and discuss what we have learned today.
Day 4 :
- Today’s focus:
Today, focus on how to enjoy nature. Learn practical, low impact outdoor living skills that minimize impact on the natural environment. Activities might include shelter-building, fire building, foraging for wild edibles, navigation and water purification.
Lunch will be provided at the project site.
- Nature journaling workshop:
Sierra Club founder and preservationist, John Muir, kept a nature journal bound by a red ribbon and packed full of observations, drawings and descriptive narratives. In this workshop, students make their own simple nature journal, and learn about sketching and techniques for taking quick field notes. Through journaling, students reflect on their experiences, and have an opportunity for individual expression.
Participate in a bioblitz by identifying and recording the farm's fauna and flora. Students prepare by learning to identify plants and animals, as well as organization by taxonomic groupings. Then teams head out to the farm to encounter and discover the species in forest, creek and grassland. Information collected will be used to update our farm database and draw conclusions about biodiversity.
- Farewell farm dinner:
Enjoy our final farm fresh dinner. After dinner, we will travel the short distance from the farm to Chicago. Although it's only a short number of miles, it's a very different environment!
- Welcome to the Windy City:
America's third largest city! The greater Chicagoland area is home to 9.1 million people living in a total are of 14,500 square miles. Located on the western shore of Lake Michigan, Chicago has become known for its culture, cuisine, and sports. Louis Jolliet, a Canadian explorer and the French-born Jesuit Jacques Marquette were the first Europeans to discover the Chicago area in 1673 with the help of local Indians. Since then, the city has grown to become the third largest city in the U.S. and is home to some of the world's largest and most famous companies such as Brach's candies, Sears & Roebuck, Rand McNally, and the Boeing Corporation. Chicago's most famous landmark, the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), is the second tallest building in North America.
You will have some time to reflect on the day's activities and discuss what you have learned from your service activity. Practice nature journaling and reflect on how interaction with nature shapes our lives.
Day 5 :
Community Gardening in Chicago
- Welcome and orientation:
We will start the morning with a brief orientation session where we will discuss the day's service activity. We will discuss the importance and relevance of the project and how we can apply what we learn from the day to our daily lives when we return home. *Service activities can be developed based on group needs and requests.
- Service activity:
Urban farming Food justice and access to healthy food is a critical issue in Chicago. The focus of Community Gardens is to deliver fresh produce to communities in places where food access is limited, specifically healthy food like fresh produce. They operate similar to a co-op and have a focus on sustainable gardening. Lunch will be provided at the project site.
- Walking tour:
Enjoy a walking tour of Chicago. Navy Pier is a not-for-profit originally opened as a shipping and recreational facility in 1916 at a cost of $4.5 million. The 3,300-foot-long pier located on Lake Michigan in the Streeterville neighborhood, has served many purposes throughout its rich history and currently encompasses more than fifty acres of parks, gardens, shops, restaurants, family attractions and exhibition facilities and is the top leisure destination in the Midwest, drawing nearly nine million visitors annually.
We will enjoy dinner together in a local restaurant. You will have some time to reflect on the day's activities and discuss what you have learned from your service activity.
Day 6 :
Exploring the Windy City
- Field Museum of Natural History:
Discover Sue, the world's largest and most complete T. rex ever found! Descend into an Egyptian tomb and see 23 Egyptian mummies and 5,000 year-old hieroglyphics, shrink to 1/100th of your natural size and get a bug's-eye view in Underground Adventure, be dazzled in our Halls of Gems and Jades, come nose-to-nose with the man-eating lions of Tsavo, walk among dinosaurs in our new, renovated dinosaur hall - Evolving Planet or explore 13,000 years of history from the Ice Age Mammoth hunters to the temples of the Aztecs in the Ancient Americas Hall.
- Guest speaker:
The Field Museum works hard to promote sustainability. The Keller Center at The Field is working to create an ecological network of eight million acres that unites urban neighborhoods with natural areas. Community members and groups are essential collaborators in bringing together diverse landscapes, celebrating cultures, and addressing climate change. Hear from a special speaker how they are addressing the community's needs.
- Millennium Park:
Discover a state-of-the-art collection of architecture, landscape design and art that provide the backdrop for hundreds of free cultural programs including concerts, exhibitions, tours, and family activities. In Millennium Park, you'll find a new kind of town square -- a lively, spectacular gathering spot located in the heart of the city and a destination for Chicagoans and visitors alike (time permitting).
- Chicago River Architecture Tour:
Departing from the Wendella Dock at Trump Tower, an expert architecture tour guide leads you through all three branches of the Chicago River. This 75-minute tour highlights Chicago's rich architectural heritage, with dramatic views of residential and office buildings along the river. During this tour, you will discover a wide range of architectural styles designed by notable architects Mies van der Rohe, Bertrand Goldberg, and Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. This tour is suitable for everyone, especially those interested in the architectural history of Chicago.
We will enjoy dinner together in a local restaurant.
- Final reflection and discussion session:
Reflect on how citizens and organizations can work together to improve communities for everyone. What is your role?
Day 7 :
Departure from Chicago
Today we head home as our rewarding and enjoyable Farm to Fork in the Midwest outdoor education program comes to an end.