Happy Monday! I wanted to update you a bit about the land development surrounding Farm School and our plans for our grounds in the coming months.
Farm School relocated from my home in Cedar Park in November 2008. At that time, Crystal Falls Parkway was a very quiet two lane country road. Our parking lot was at the same level as the roadway! Wiley Middle School was already open, and Rouse High School had just opened to its first freshman class. Many neighbors had their land up for sale, but not much was happening in terms of new development. We nervously entered into a lease-to-own purchase agreement for nearly 13 acres of land, which extended from our parking lot all the way back through the fields behind the school, and through the edge of the tree line. We only intended to keep about two acres of land for the school–always knowing two acres was about what we could afford and manage long-term.
Now, development is starting to hop! Long-time residents who have patiently waited to sell out along Crystal Falls are getting contracts. We’re all sad to see more rural space developed, especially with so many unknowns about who our neighbors will be (Sonic?). We are negotiating our own land purchase, which will condense Farm School to just under two acres.
About 260 homes will be built as part of the Crystal Springs development on the land behind and to the east of Farm School. Leander’s largest projected community park, Lakewood Park, will be built around the existing lake through the trees behind us.
In the coming months, we will be moving the large animals forward within the two acres, watching to see how the new space works for them. We are wondering if that Abby will be happy!
Enhancing the Farm
While condensing ourselves onto two acres is bittersweet, we are excited to enhance our grounds for both the children we serve as regular clients, and those that visit the Farm. We feel strongly that young children need to have plenty of time outdoors to encourage healthy, well-rounded development. As we all experience more and more growth in the Cedar Park/Leander area, it can become harder and harder to put our hands on farm animals and enjoy time in nature. Thank goodness for all of the wonderful parks in our area! We believe that Farm School will also continue to be a valuable resource to the community–a place for children to grow and learn outdoors as well as a place where like-minded families can connect under our big trees. For this reason, we have assessed our land and the play opportunities it affords, and have identified some enhancements that will make each child’s experience at the Farm even more meaningful!
We’ll take the Spring and Summer to raise funds for the enhancements we’ll make in September.
May 17, 2014 Parent Workday –move animals (Abby the Donkey, Smokey and Bandito the pygmy goats, and Bob the sheep forward in new fencing), have dirt delivered to construct hills (running east-west from the rope swing to the Fairy Forest).
June 14, 2014 Father’s Day Food Truck Fun-Raiser, truck tbd this week
September 2014, install/build new installations with both professional and September Parent Work Day help
1. Build 2 small hills/knolls approximately 6 feet high adjacent to the parking lot extension (fill dirt, topsoil, grass seed). One hill will feature an underground tunnel, one hill will feature a slide laying against the slope of the hill.
2. Install 4″ x 4″ posts in the ground of varying heights and distances apart to create a climbing/balance structure.
3. Construct a bamboo covered tunnel adjacent to the “Fairy Forest” area. This may serve as a play house for the children, or it may be a classroom meeting space for morning circle, etc.
4. Build a series of 2-3 small decks with log posts at the corners, and log rails between some of the posts. Children may then use durable and colorful tree house fabric to create their own tree house, tent, or ever-changing room based on their imaginations.
5. Build a wooden teepee.
6. Build several simple Leopold benches to incorporate into the Farm School landscape.
7. Replace the current “Beat It” station with a large “hank drum” and mallets.
8. Add a musical fence (features steel pipes), adjacent to the hank drum.
9. Add a Little Free Library to the courtyard outside of the Good Earth Farmer’s Market/Sprouts Classroom, creating a “take a book, return a book” gathering place. We think this will be so much fun for children! We will also register our library on the Little Library world map.
Are You Able to Help?
Buy tickets to the Food Truck Fun-Raisers…our goal is to sell 200 adult tickets and 50 child tickets for each event. Community guests, as well as friends and family of Farm School clients are welcome to attend, so help us spread the word! We thought eating awesome food to raise money for the project might be a win-win!
Donate (“register) to our efforts HERE–maybe grandparents or out-of-town relatives might like to help?
Got dirt? If you are someone who can coordinate inexpensive or free deliveries of safe “clean” dirt, we’d love to talk with you about constructing a couple of six foot high hills in May! We want to give them time to settle and grass over before September.
Send us good vibes! Even if it’s not in your budget to buy Fun-Raiser tickets or to make a donation, help us by believing in this project and lending a hand as we call for volunteers periodically.