Growing up in a city meant being as far removed from my food sources as humanly possible. This year's first prize winner of the AWR International Ideas Competition, plans to change this with their proposal of a preschool that teaches kids to grow food. Instead of reading about farming in books, classrooms would feature planter boxes and animal pens, easily accessible by all students. Kids would experience first hand what it takes to raise their own food.
Our relationship with nature has changed so much in the last century. We are so far away from the food chain that we have forgotten the art of growing our own food supplies. It's hard to imagine planting and cultivating a vegetable garden, when I can just walk to a local Whole Foods and purchase the same items without the hassle. However, the importance of knowing the process cannot be ignored. Knowing how hard it is to grow our food is integral to respecting nature. I think having children learn that respect from an early age is very beneficial. The "Nursery Fields Forever" competition proposal shows buildings surrounded by animals and planters, where children can get first hand experience of sustainability. They even included wind turbines and solar panels to teach kids about renewable energy.
This idea should definitely be made into a reality, and I'm happy to learn that the team behind the design, helmed by designers Gabriele Capobianco, Edoardo Capuzzo Dolcetta, Jonathan Lazar, and Davide Troiani, is in talks to actually build this school. It's amazing to think that in my lifetime something like this can exist to educate children. If you wanted to check out the full designs you can go to the competition website. Below is the concept art depicting what the school could potentially look like:
The children would first learn about simple concepts — the five kingdoms of life, the four seasons and four elements. That would become their base knowledge and something that every student ends up learning, regardless of what school they attend. From then, the education we get differs from this proposed model. Students at Nursery Fields Forever would start to learn from practice what it means to have sustainable food by farming and being in close contact to their food supply.
Just imagine being able to touch the animals that give you their milk, or the ability to plant and take care of your carrots. The interaction will bring respect to entire food process and really open the kids eyes to how difficult sustainable food farming is. Finally, as the kids grow older and are able to grasp more complicated subjects, they will be introduced to sustainable energy sources. How to create energy from the sun, wind, earth and water — tying it all back to the four elements they learned about at the start. I cannot stress how much I love this idea and how much I hope I get to see it in my lifetime. Hopefully the kids get the experience of a lifetime and not this:
Images: Giphy (2), Pixabay/PublicDomainPictures