A dream come true

Farm animals, including goats and alpacas, will be part of the curriculum at Harvest Farm School.

LYNDEBOROUGH – Ten years ago, Sarah Chadzynski began thinking about a school that would have the students outside, connecting with nature and developing a love for the planet.

This fall, that dream will become a reality. Sarah and her husband, Peter, will open Harvest Farm School and will accommodate 10 to 20 students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

“But that could be (up to) grade 8, if there is enough interest,” she said during a recent tour of the site at 170 Pinnacle Road.

The Chadzynskis purchased the 23-acre property about a year ago and moved here from Townsend, Mass.

Sarah, who grew up in Massachusetts, has a master’s degree in education from Antioch College, with an undergraduate degree in art, and an upbringing in Montessori education. She has taught all ages at both public and private schools and also worked with the Ag-in-the-Classroom program.

“The current buzz in teaching is cross-curriculum,” she said, “the connections between things, like doing art in math and science in English, going back to the one-room school concept, all working together, supporting each other, getting involved.”

The Chadzynskis chose their new home’s property for its steep hillside.

“The best sledding in town,” Peter said.

There’s also a pond, a stream, fields, pastures and woodlands – features that will be included in the program, and a variety of wildlife to observe. This would include deer, turkeys, blue herons, but no bear yet, she said.

The curriculum will include all aspects of agriculture, planting and growing a garden, and learning to care for farm animals. They have horses, goats, alpacas, geese and chickens as well as the dogs and cats at the property.

“We will be planting elderberries and blueberry bushes,” she said, “and we’re going to try paw paws, but it may be too far north for them.”

There are about 125 maple trees and a sugar house on the site that they intend to use.

“There is so much learning around that,” she said.

Peter, who has had a varied professional background, is working in post-and-beam construction.

In school, he “did better with more hands-on learning,” he said, and had the advantage of being able to compare the European and American education models.

“Growing up, I spent summers in Poland with my family, where they learn these fantastic skills, the confidence to go out into the woods. Kids need that, to develop a love of this space we live in,” Peter said.

He noted the property has a “very dynamic landscape with some real problems.”

“We’ll be doing real work, not created work,” Sarah said, “really caring for the animals and planting gardens. This is a great way to observe biodiversity, not a mono-culture, which is common. That is important: how the community of plants live together.”

They want to be a “comfortable, supporting setting,” she said, and want to collaborate with all the other programs in the area.

“Each program provides its thing,” Sarah explained.

The new venture will work out a “sliding scale of tuition, even though we need to be successful in order to continue,” Sarah said.

The Chadzynskis may be reached at 654-2341.

For those who would like more information, the school will host an open house from 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 13.