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Service, Learning and Vegetables Create Outdoor Classroom

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When Radell Schrock — Season’s Bounty Farm owner — shared about a family medical emergency with his congregation of Zion (Virginia) Mennonite, it unleashed a support network that resulted in student service and learning, and fresh vegetables on hundreds of tables.

Drake Heatwole ’21, Anna Haarer, Family and Consumer Science teacher discuss the subscription boxes with Radell Schrock, of Seasons Bounty Farm. Photo by Andrew Gascho.

“The support from Eastern Mennonite School was a surprise, and has been terrific,” says Schrock, whose wife is hospitalized following a brain injury. “The student, teacher and administrative volunteers have been really appreciated,” says Schrock. The support allowed him to spend time at the hospital and be sure the couple’s infant daughter is well cared for.

Paul Leaman, head of school, learned of Schrock’s situation through their church network. In short order, he arranged for eight students to join him the next morning at the farm, just north of Harrisonburg. The students dug right in, literally, and “were a real help,” according to Schrock, in getting ready for Schrock’s stand at the Harrisonburg Farmers’ Market the next day.

The following week, Anna Haarer’s food science and nutrition class, spent three class periods at the farm preparing baskets for Schrock’s vegetable subscription pick up, later that day. The students have been studying food consumer habits and discussing what it means to eat local, according to Haarer, a 2009 EMHS graduate and current family and consumer science teacher.

“It was an excellent learning experience,” says Haarer, who was once a student of Schrock’s when he taught earth and physical science at the school. “You can tell Radell really cares about what he is doing. Growing beautiful, nutritious food for local consumption is his passion,” observed Haarer.

Drake Heatwole ’21, Anna Haarer, Family and Consumer Science teacher discuss the subscription boxes with Radell Schrock, of Seasons Bounty Farm. Photo by Andrew Gascho.

The students were a “seven out of 10” on wanting to do this kind of work again for the class, reports Haarer. “It was good to see how the vegetables are prepared and what goes in the subscription boxes,” says a Drake Heatwole ‘21. “It fit with what we are learning about nutrition and eating local.” And, he adds, “working outside was a great change from the classroom!”

The produce at Season’s Bounty is grown without pesticides and sheep are raised on grass. The products are sold primarily through Harrisonburg Farmers Market, through CSA subscription boxes, to numerous local restaurants, the Shenandoah Valley Produce Auction, The Woods Edge Farm Stand and the Friendly City Food Cooperative.

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