Local Spotlight: Learning Tree Farm

This Dayton farm is helping to meet the growing demand for nature-based education in the community.

Learning Tree Farm is a working farm in Dayton that engages people in hands-on, nature-based learning. The non-profit farm connects the community with farming by hosting educational programs and learning opportunities throughout the year.

Southwest Ohio Parent spoke with Heather Ritter, executive director of Learning Tree Farm, to learn more about the organization.

learning tree

How does learning about farming and nature help the community?

Studies have shown that time spent in nature benefits the overall emotional health of all individuals. Through our educational programming, we hope to “plant seeds” in the sense that as children grow, they develop an appreciation and respect for the environment and become future stewards of our planet. Nature and farming education helps children and families connect with the world around them and see the bigger picture of how everything works together. Learning Tree allows children to go into our gardens, pens, pastures and woodlands to taste fresh vegetables, learn how to pick up chickens and to explore.

summer learning tree farm

Please share more about your farm literacy efforts.

Our farm has many programs that are based on literacy in nature. For our community programs like our Chickadee program, every session has a book that is read that goes along with the topic for that day. Our Stories Alive field trip for 2nd to 5th grade allows students to read an easy-level chapter book and then come to the farm for a field trip based on that story. We recently installed a new Storybook Trail that will have a different story featured every couple of months and can change locations to encourage more exploration. We plan to start Stories in the Straw this fall.

learning tree farm pioneer

What other neat programs do you have coming up?

Our largest event of the year, Autumn Fest, is coming up on Saturday, September 17 with educational booths, food trucks, pony rides and hayrides. Our Four Seasons of Family Fun Saturday program will continue this fall and be all about our honeybees and how honey is made. We will also have a four-week fall Discovery Class for 2.5- to 5-year-olds plus our last Farm School drop-off Saturday program for 8- to 11-year-olds. This program will be expanding to weekdays for homeschool families.

learning literacy

Can you give us a sneak peek at future plans for the farm?

We are going to be expanding educational signage and our field trip programming to talk more about healthy soil through regenerative agriculture as well as the importance of pollinators. We also have plans to continue to grow our reach into urban communities. Next year will be our 50th anniversary and we’re planning 50 things to do for our 50th. Stay tuned!

learning tree farm

How can people help Learning Tree Farm and get involved?

We are always looking for new supporters! We accept monetary and gift item donations from our wish list. We are also always looking for dedicated volunteers who want to come out regularly and help us take care of the farm and animals! For more information about volunteering, donating or signing up for events or programs, visit www.learningtreefarm.org.

Learning Tree Farm is located at 3376 S Union Rd., Dayton, OH 45417. Hours: Monday-Saturday: 10:00 am-4:00 pm, Sunday: 12:30 pm-4:00 pm.

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