Waldorf Inspired Farm (home)School

Some readers may wonder why I am writing about homeschooling on a permaculture blog, however, to me, educating and caring for the next generation is an important part of permaculture. I can learn all I want about caring for the land, about farming using permaculture and/or bio-dynamic principles, about harvesting water and caring for our environment, and the list goes on. But if all of that learning stops with me and I send my children out into the world to live the typical modern-day consumer lifestyle, how have I helped to change anything? So with that in mind, I will be posting occasional posts about our homeschool life.

I’ve chosen to use the Waldorf pedagogy and philosophy for a couple of reasons; it is a beautiful method of teaching that resonates with both myself and my children, I also agree with a lot of its basic principles of teaching children through doing, of teaching the whole child (art, music and movement are just as important as academics) and I also love its focus on nature. The founder of Waldorf, the anthroposophic Rudolf Steiner was also considered the father of bio-dynamic farming, a farming method fairly close to permaculture.

Our school year looks a little different than the typical school year, mostly because we fit what we’re doing into the seasons, especially in relation to what happens on the farm in each season. In our area of the world, late fall to early spring is the time to be doing inside book work. In our short summer season, we want to be outside as much as possible. So our book-work school year begins the beginning of October and goes to the end of April. May through September is our outside hands-on learning.  This year I have my daughter S in grade 2 and my son A in kindergarten. So we are still at the stage where we do a lot of story telling and art as well as basic academic skills for grade 2 (the three R’s).

After doing a fun unit on space in the fall, we(hubby and I) decided over Christmas to return to the Waldorf curriculum, in our own way. I don’t believe anything should be followed blindly, to the letter, and we don’t follow the Waldorf curriculum 100%. For example, this year I am doing grade 2 Waldorf math and form drawing as well as animal stories but I am not doing a block on Saints, as would be the norm for a Waldorf school.

Kindergarten is fairly simple as the Waldorf philosophy doesn’t have children learning academics in kindergarten, so we are following the Waldorf Essentials kindergarten which is a collection of stories about a young gnome named Sam and his friends. The curriculum includes suggested activities, music, handwork and recipes and A really enjoys the adventures.

For S right now we are doing a block (Waldorf curriculum is typically divided into blocks, approximately one month in length where something specific is the main focus) on animal stories from around the world. We are having a lot of fun with it! I am using a 2-day cycle where day one we read the story and do some art, either painting, drawing or modeling. Then day two we learn a bit about the country that the story is from through books and/or youtube and do a craft and perhaps some cooking from that country or area of the world. So far this month we’ve made East Indian pronti and a goat dish, we’ve made West African tribal masks, we’ve practiced some Chinese writing and made a paper coral reef on part of our school wall. Tomorrow we will try to do some Jewish dance together. Our last block for this year, in April will be a math block, focusing on money and time.

 

 

 

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Coffee Roasting

My newest homesteading skill to learn has been roasting my own coffee. In my quest to be mostly food self-sufficient I don’t think growing coffee is going to be possible. Maybe it will be someday with a heated solarium or indoors, I don’t know, but in the meantime I can take my coffee one step closer by roasting green coffee greens at home. Who knew that roasting your own coffee is actually fun and easy! Sweet Maria’s has a great step by step instructions on how to do it, here is my small description on how I am doing it after learning from my dear friend Delena, who blogs at Cabin Organic. We order our coffee beans from Sweet Maria’s they have an amazing selection.

I start out with approximately 1/3 cup of green coffee beans in the hot air popper, after letting it heat up for a minute or so. The amount of beans you want to use depends on your popper, you want the beans to be swirling around nicely (so they don’t burn) but not too fast since you want an even roast.

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I then start my stopwatch on my phone so I can see how much time the beans have been in the popper. Generally speaking the beans take about 5 1/2 to 6 minutes but it depends on the variety. The beans in this picture are Guatemalan beans and took 6 minutes.

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We’re at about 3 minutes here, the beans are swirling nicely and changing colour and the husks are flying everywhere. The beans are also “cracking”, you actually hear an audible cracking sound as the beans roast, almost like popcorn popping but not more of a crack than a pop. Really neat. From here on, I am mostly just watching for the right colour. The beans do start to smoke, you’ll notice I’m roasting on my stove, this is because the popper is right under my exhaust fan since it’s winter here. In spring and summer, I will probably do this outside. The smoke doesn’t mean the coffee is burning, its just part of the roasting process.

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And we’re done. Beautiful plump, shiny roasted coffee beans that smell amazing. They are in the mesh strainer to cool off, and stop smoking. Once they’re room temperature I transfer them to a glass jar with the lid ajar to allow them to off gas for 12-24 hours. They will be ready to enjoy in the morning.

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Simple, fast and fun. Only 10 minutes and you have an amazing freshly roasted coffee bean to grind for your morning coffee!