The CROPS Program

young boy with freckles eating a carrot, with freshly-dug carrots and their greens on a table behind him

VSDB Educational Urban Farm & Greenhouse

“A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.” — Gertrude Jekyll

VSDB’s CROPS program and its Educational Urban Farm foster a culture of responsibility, independence, community, and wellness through outdoor experiential learning.

The program deepens students’ abilities to make connections between the natural world, their community, and themselves. And it’s a source of wonder, beauty, and profound enjoyment.

Educational Urban Farm

Our three-acre farm is a place to learn skills, understand food production, gain appreciation for food and nutrition, and experience the joy of connecting with the natural world. In addition, teachers use the space for hands-on, environment-based learning in math, English, business, journalism, and other subjects.

The largest educational urban farm in Virginia, it produces over 6,000 pounds of vegetables and herbs each year which are used in our cafeteria and sold at the weekly farm stand run by our students. 

  • One acre devoted to crop production
  • Greenhouse
  • Raised bed garden
  • Sensory garden
  • Youth-managed garden business
  • Paved handicapped-accessible section of the garden
  • Solar oven

 

All classes and activity groups are welcome to use the farm, and our teachers collaborate with the farm team to make the most of the farm as an educational space. 

Boy holding yellow cherry tomatoes, standing in a garden with raised beds, tomato plants, lettuces, and other plants
Three blind students in garden holding melons and smiling, with melon vines in foreground

Weekly CROPS Classes

The CROPS program incorporates the farm into weekly 40-minute classes that are available to all VSDB educational departments. Teachers sign up their classes to participate. Students interact with the natural world through a variety of environment-based lessons that reinforce learning in the areas of math, science, nutrition, and the environment. Classes include tending the raised-bed gardens, helping out on the farm, cooking with the fresh produce, and ecosystem exploration.

All senses fully engaged!

To reach all VSDB students, activities are designed to stimulate the senses including sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste.