“As technology replaces human interaction,
our children are losing the ability to forge meaningful relationships.
Contact with the land and our animals, in all their variety and diversity,
becomes an antidote to this lost  connection.”
Nicki Robb, Director of the Land Stewardship Program

Land Stewardship

Because Agency is the Antidote

The Hartsbrook School recognizes that a true connection to the land and its inhabitants awakens in our students a sense of responsibility and accountability for nurturing the land and relationships that make up our world.  Our Land Stewardship Program builds in our students the tools needed to become informed citizens who are cognizant of the complex issues surrounding our ability to feed and nourish ourselves, sensitive to the interdependent needs of the land and creatures around us, and practiced enough to step into the world with a capacity and passion for seeking solutions to today’s challenges.

Why Land Stewardship?

In these challenging times, when dissonance between cultures and political beliefs has become the norm, people are actively seeking ways to raise children who will learn what it is to support our relationships with the earth that sustains us and the community that surrounds us.

We need experiences that counteract our disconnection with our natural world, and heal the anxiousness arising from nature deficit disorder.  We need to raise children who not only learn about nature, but who also learn about their role as guardians of this natural world. We need programs that will help students see ways to contribute to solutions. Through Hartsbrook’s Land Stewardship program, students develop new soul capacities for building healthy human connections and capacities to act.

Land Stewardship Program

“The Earth is what we all have in common.”
― Wendell Berry

The Land Stewardship Curriculum

Hartsbrook students are the caretakers of our 52 acre campus, its 42 acres of environmentally protected agricultural land and our active livestock and produce farm. Land Stewardship programming is deeply integrated with our academic curriculum.  All grades take on work in cultivation and animal husbandry and in older grades students engage in the wider community of sustainable agriculture in the Pioneer Valley from research projects to service projects.

Are we training farmers? While some may choose this path, the Land Stewardship Program instills qualities needed by each of us, regardless of our ultimate vocation. Observations of the natural world in an active farm environment inspires wonder and appreciation.  Participation in meaningful work instills a sense of responsibility and cultivates a work ethic. Development of and informed relationship to the art and science of agriculture and sustainable food production provides students with the tools to become heartfelt stewards of the earth.

Land Stewardship Program

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent
about things that matter.”  
— Martin Luther King Jr.

The Recipe for a Changemaker...


One Part Empathy

A student who cares for an animal, nurtures a seed, marvels at compost transformation, or gazes into a hive of honey bees, can't help but understand just how essential every living creature is to our health and well-being.


One Part Grit

A student who has mucked a stall, convinced a stubborn donkey to move, built a farm structure, weeded in the heat, sold vegetables… and tackled a variety of other purposeful work… has learned something about how to get things done.


One Part Understanding

A student who spends time in our local farming community knows just how fragile the relationship between agriculture, food security and environmental justice is. This connection to the land and its inhabitants awakens not only interest but accountability and responsibility.

Land Stewardship by Grade

Early Childhood

Early Childhood

Land Stewardship ProgramEgg gathering, pea picking and long walks through our land – daily, the children are wrapped in the natural world through all of the sights, sounds, and smells of life on an active garden and farm.

Forest Kindergarten

Land Stewardship ProgramForest Kindergarten children meet outdoors in a magical encampment and spend their days playing in the stream and forest, where nature offers a bountiful classroom.


First Grade ~ Flower Gardens

Land Stewardship Program1st graders engage in the planting and care of flower gardens, including composting and bulb planting in the fall, and adding color to our gardens in the spring!

Second Grade ~ Three Sisters Garden

Land Stewardship ProgramEach student plants their own mound with corn, beans and squash and spends the growing season tending and harvesting their Three Sisters Garden together.

Third Grade ~ Chickens and Rabbits

Land Stewardship ProgramFarm chores and animal husbandry start in earnest this year. 3rd graders are responsible for incubating, hatching and raising chicks; caring for a hen flock and collecting their eggs; and the care of a notorious and beloved bunny.

Fourth Grade ~ Goats, Donkeys and LIving on Earth Curriculum

Land Stewardship Program4th graders are responsible for goat and donkey chores. This year begins our Living on Earth curriculum which includes shelter building, food preparation, grain growing, threshing, milling, baking and practical arts such as working and weaving fleece fibers.

Fifth Grade ~ Sheep Care and Vegetable Gardens

Land Stewardship ProgramVegetables, grains and herbs gathered from the garden and fields are processed.  Students take on the daily care of our flock of Shetland sheep and start their animal observation studies.

Middle School

Sixth Grade ~ Cows, Pigs and Composting

Land Stewardship ProgramWork with the cows and pigs begins in 6th grade.  The students undertake daily milking and learn to produce milk products such as butter, cheese and yogurt.  Students study plants and transformative composting processes, and select vegetables to plant in a kitchen garden in the spring.

7th Grade ~ Harvest, Health and Polinators

Land Stewardship ProgramWith the bounty harvested from the kitchen garden planted in their 6th grade spring, 7th graders plan and prepare nutritious meals, supply vegetables for the kindergarten and school events, and manage a farm stand.  The students also plant an insect pollinator and seed collection garden.

8th Grade ~ Beekeeping

Land Stewardship ProgramThrough the study of the life cycle and habits of the honeybee, students learn about these industrious insects and their complex relationship to science, nature and humankind.  The beekeeping experience is a unique opportunity for students to problem-solve how to protect bee colonies from recent devastation due to climate changes, bacteria and viral infestation.

High School

Farm Practicum

Land Stewardship ProgramHIgh school students work our own land and visit local farms to learn about agriculture in different farm communities.  Studies include plant diversity, plant propagation (pollination, grafting, seed production), cultivation practices, soil care and management as well as comparisons between our farms and others. They also make in-depth studies of new and innovative local agricultural initiatives (CSAs, Farmers’ Markets, Urban Farm Initiatives and Land Conservation Trusts).

Change Making and our Human Relationship With Earth

Land Stewardship ProgramAll of the agricultural arts classes taught throughout the grades begin to synthesize in high school as students explore more deeply issues of sustainability, land use, climate change and human impact on the environment.  Students engage with our wider community to learn about the fragile relationship between local agriculture, food security and environmental justice.  They are challenged to problem-solve, proposing solutions by detailing elements required to create an ecologically and economically sustainable agricultural system.

More ways to support
a deep connection to our natural world…

Farm Camp
Vacation and Summer Farm Programs
Forest Kindergarten
Outdoor Early Childhood Education