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Old Ways, New Faces (8)


Lessons from the Land

Just east of West Branch, past the Herbert Hoover Library and Museum and a quarter mile south of the crossroads where Delta Avenue bisects Highway 44, an orange and green heap of pumpkins and winter squash marks the entrance to Scattergood Friends School.

At a quarter past eight the grounds are quiet, save for humming interstate traffic in the middle distance.

Teachers and students gather in the Meeting House for Collection, 15 minutes of silent worship at the start of each school day, and when the doors swing open at half past eight, the campus bustles with an energy unlike the usual hubbub of a schoolyard. In a word, the place is calm.

It’s a rainy day, so Mark Quee shrugs into a poncho before taking a few laundry baskets out to the fields to harvest the day’s lunch.

Scattergood Farm encompasses 10 acres of certified organic gardens and orchards, as well as 30 acres of pasture for cattle and sheep that provide the bulk of the school’s meat supply, supplemented by a handful of Guinea hogs, broiler chickens, and turkeys.

(Read more Old Ways, New Faces)

Mark Quee (left, standing next to humanities
teacher Sam Taylor) and Dana Foster (seated
next to Quee’s daughter, Gilly) steer a living
laboratory that’s an integral part of the learning
experience at Scattergood Friends School.

Simplicity and Integrity

The integration of farming into Scattergood Friends School’s daily life reflects the four central tenets of Quakerism: peace, equality, integrity, and simplicity. As humanities teacher Sam Taylor explains, “Equality comes through in our practice of shared decision making. Hopefully, by living together in community, we also teach the values of simplicity and integrity. We work together and live together in a pretty tight space. If your life is cluttered by too much stuff or too many engagements, then it is hard to be a full community member.”

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