Students who participated in a farming curriculum shared their experiences as “student farmers” through photos, drawings and essays during an award ceremony in Taipei on Friday.
With smiles on their faces, 23 children, ranging from elementary-school age to senior high-school age, were awarded for their photography, drawings and essays that portrayed the life of a farmer during a ceremony jointly hosted by the National Federation of Teachers’ Unions and the Rejoice Bread Workshop at Lao Song Elementary School in Taipei.
However, the students did not create their work by observing the life of farmers, they had experienced the life of a farmer themselves, growing wheat and different beans on campus as an extracurricular activity.
“The curriculum was aimed at allowing students to learn where their food comes from, to establish a connection to the land and hopefully to raise their awareness about Taiwan’s food self-sufficiency crisis,” said Chen Chung-hung (陳崇弘), deputy director of the teachers’ union’s Professional Development Center, at the ceremony.
Lee Han-chen (李函葴), a sixth-grade student at Siwei Elementary School in Wandan Township (萬丹), Pingtung County, said that while she lives in a predominantly agricultural community and her grandparents are farmers, she had never worked in the field before taking part in the program.
“Wandan is known as the home of adzuki beans in Taiwan, and I grew up amid adzuki bean farms and rice paddies, but I never got to know much about farming,” Lee said. “I’m thankful that I had this opportunity to work in the field myself and to learn how difficult it is to be a farmer. This experience opened my eyes.”
Lee’s teacher, Wu Chung-hsun (吳忠勳), said that in addition to working in the field, the students would also be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor as the Rejoice Bread Workshop would process the crops they grew into pastries for the students.
A freshman student at Shulin District (樹林), New Taipei City’s (新北市) Ganyuan Junior High School, Cheng Yen-jung (鄭筵融), said that he hated farmwork when he started to grow wheat on campus, but now he enjoys it.
“At first, I didn’t like to get muddy, so I really hated farmwork,” Cheng said. “But after a few months of work in the fields — plowing, sowing, irrigating, looking after the crops and driving away birds during lunch break — I fell in love with the work and even the mud. Now, I enjoy it a lot.”
Cheng and his teammates’ teacher Chen Chi-wen (陳麒文) also arranged a bicycle tour around the community where the school is located so the students can learn more about the community.
“We’ve blended the farming curriculum and the mother tongue curriculum together in the hope that the students will get to know their community better,” he said.
“Although I’m the teacher, I’ve also benefited a lot from the program because farming is something I’ve never had a chance to do,” he added.