“Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.” -William Wordsworth
Every day at Belle Meade provides students with opportunities to connect with each other and the land. Students begin and end each day with circle and farm chores. Circle is a daily time for reflection and sharing where students and staff express their ideas as equals.
Chores build personal responsibility, teamwork, and cooperation while fostering care for the school and the farm. Chores include tending to horses, chickens, pigs, sheep, and turkeys; gathering and splitting firewood; gardening; and general cleaning.
Our natural learning environment strives to connect students with nature, plants, animals, and the world around them. We interact with the farm animals on a daily basis and have furry friends who live and work on campus (dogs and cats). These animals act as companions for students and staff and are therapeutic additions to our school environment.
Sustainability is an integral part of the Belle Meade community. The farm and school operate hand-in-hand allowing students to practice a sustainable lifestyle. Students develop relationships through acceptance of themselves and by building connections with others. We develop a solid foundation of learning and apply knowledge by doing, living, and experiencing every day.
Chores & Community Work
Daily chores sustain our school, our farm, and our community. We all take part in this work twice a day: in the morning and in the afternoon. Every few weeks chores rotate in order that all students have the opportunity to experience each area of responsibility on the Belle Meade campus, collaborating with different students and staff members. Feeding the animals, gardening, housekeeping, splitting firewood, and harvesting are among the chore tasks. In the process of doing this work, we learn the needs of the animals, about health and nutrition, how to care for plants, how to maintain a household, the value of community service and personal responsibility, and many other skills that we will rely on throughout our lives whatever our living situation. Students come to school prepared to work outside every day in all weather conditions. A hat, coat, work gloves and waterproof boots are essential items that are kept at school for this purpose.
Every Thursday, we extend our school day in order to spend additional time engaging in various projects and long-term or large-scale community work throughout campus. On each of these days, students split into groups and work with a faculty or staff member on a specific activity that benefits the school or farm in some way. Depending on the season and schedule, we may engage in collecting firewood, trail clearing, gardening, harvesting, moving animal houses, general cleaning, mowing, or working on special projects (such as designing and building an adventure obstacle course). Community work day provides an opportunity for students and staff to interact on common footing, working together outside of the classroom, engaging in active, hands-on projects that contribute to the sustainability of Belle Meade campus.