After two years worth of planning, design, collaboration, development and fabrication, our Junior High students will be hosting a grand opening of their newest venture, Maria’s Market Farm Cart, including a special ribbon cutting ceremony with the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce. (The ceremony is being planned for early 2018. It was originally scheduled for December but was postponed due to inclement weather.) This project has been a near perfect example of how our students work together to bring an idea to life while engaging in real, purposeful work that not only stimulates their intellect but also teaches them valuable, lifelong skills in entrepreneurship and economics.
Maria’s Market Farm Cart was developed through an aspect of the Junior High Curriculum known as the Micro Economy Program. The 2017-18 school year marks the fifth year running the program as an integrated “Farm to Fork” business. At the beginning of each school year, students apply for jobs in the program based on their interests, talents, and abilities. Branches of the business include Research and Development, Design and Fabrication, Finance, Tribal Council, an on-site Restaurant, and a Farm Team. Click here to read more about the Micro Economy Program.
At the beginning of the 2016-17 school year, the Farm Team submitted a proposal to the Design and Fabrication Team to build a mobile market stand where produce from the School’s gardens, eggs from the School’s chickens, and original student art could be sold. The Design Team jumped at the project, pledging to retrofit an old trailer bed generously donated by the School’s garden manager, Aubrey Cupit.
As the team envisioned a functional design for the mobile market stand, the team members, guided by Upper School Performance and Visual Arts Teacher Jonathan McLean, used an application called Sketchup to create the first 2D images of a mobile cart.
Student designer, Lily Wagoner, studied images, took real time measurements, and made a cut and materials list. After this thorough research phase, students began the process of building the cart. Bit by bit, the project came together with the final stages including staining and painting the cart.
Maria’s Market Farm Cart officially debuted at the 2017 Fall Festival on October 15 and has been open for business several times since then. Every Friday afternoon that Junior High has a Micro Economy day the farm cart will be open from 3:00-4:00 PM during the afternoon carline. All of the produce for sale is harvested by the students from the School’s gardens. Students also make crafts and original artwork to contribute to the market, including items made by the Research and Development Team in the metal forge.
The Farm Cart and all of the integrated work throughout the student-run Micro Economy Program is a wonderful example of how these entrepreneurs are able to use their intellectual abilities to produce viable work that relates to real life, while simultaneously teaching them to be leaders and entrepreneurs. It also addresses the complexities of doing ethical work that benefits the community and ultimately the world. In the process, they learn the meaning and pleasure that can be derived from such work. It is what Maria Montessori envisioned for the adolescent and we couldn’t be more excited about encouraging this vital work.
“The shop would also necessitate a genuine study of commerce and exchange, of the art of ascertaining the demand and being ready to meet it, of the strict and rigid rules of bookkeeping. But the thing that is important above everything else is that the adolescent should have a life of activity and variety and that one occupation should act a “holiday” from another occupation. The shop would be in respect to the studies of economics and politics an educational object, similar to the aquarium or terrarium in the case of the study of biology.” – Maria Montessori (From Childhood to Adolescence, 70)
“Their spirit will dry up if the grandeur of the practical reality of our days is completely shut away from them, as if it did not exist. Men with hands and no head, and men with head and no hands are equally out of place in the modern community.” – Maria Montessori (From Childhood to Adolescence p. 61)