Just steps from the Brewster campus is Boni-Bel Organic Farm, a former dairy farm that was purchased through a bequest from generous donors Rudolf G. and Tulli Sonneborn. Two acres of vegetable gardens, orchards, flowerbeds and a greenhouse surrounded by forests and meadows provide Green Chimneys students with a rich environment to interact with nature as they learn about and become responsible for the many plants while discovering new skills, a concept known as Green Care.
As a working farm, Boni-Bel produces vegetables, fruit, flowers, maple syrup, and honey used in the Green Chimneys kitchen and classroom, and sold at the Country Store. Green Chimneys integrates Green Care by combining activity in the farm setting with healthy eating and food preparation skills. By growing vegetables like kale, onions, garlic and beans in the garden, our children are much more eager to try and eat these vegetables. The garden program is connected to the Green Chimneys School Life Skills class, where students also learn to cook the food that they grow.
Boni-Bel vocational training extends to The Country Store where students learn about operations and customer service in a real retail environment.
Students in Action at Boni-Bel
Every February, Green Chimneys students participate in the process of tapping the maple trees on our farm for sap and boiling the resulting liquid into maple syrup, with learning taking place both hands-on and in the classroom. Integrating the vocational work of “doing” with more didactic classroom science reinforces overall learning and academic skill development.
For many of our older students, turning 15 is a big event. That is when they can learn how to operate small farm tractors. The level of responsibility associated with driving these tractors as part of daily work in the garden is a big motivator. For students who are not academically inclined and who actively resist school-based education, the process of getting an operator’s certificate often is their first internally-driven success.
Green Chimneys | 400 Doansburg Road, Brewster, NY 10509 | 845.279.2995 | firstname.lastname@example.org