In 2002, the Pfeiffer Center began offering an innovative Environmental Education program called The Outdoor Lesson to our local public schools. Each school year, more than 500 children in grades K-5 experience a wide array of gardening activities, with particular emphasis on Rockland County’s agricultural heritage, the origins and contents of the foods we eat, and the connections between human labor and the food on our table.
Classes and activities take place on the Threefold Educational Center campus and the neighboring Rudolf Steiner Fellowship Community: in the Pfeiffer Center garden, the nearby Children’s Garden, and at Duryea Farm of the Fellowship Community. Our fields and barns, forest paths and greenhouses, farm animals and abundant gardens, afford countless opportunities to encounter nature, and to learn from experience how nature and humanity influence and depend upon each other.
Classes at Duryea Farm usually feature a visit to the Jessup Center, our recently renovated interpretive facility. Housed in a 19th-century barn built by the Duryea family, the Jessup Center is a living museum of our local rural heritage. Its “please touch” collection of antique farm tools lets children experience at first hand how we lived when Rockland County was home to hundreds of farms.
Depending on the season, on a typical visit children might
- Visit the Jessup Center, and work with nineteenth-century farm tools
- Use hand tools to press fresh cider and churn butter
- Chop firewood
- Feed and groom Duryea Farm's cows and sheep
- Explore pond and forest ecosystems while learning local geography and Indian lore
- Feed chickens meal made from corn that we husk and grind by hand
- Sow, transplant and harvest vegetable crops in the greenhouse or in the fields
- Tap sugar maple trees and see maple sap transformed into maple syrup
- Work with wool, carding, spinning and felting
- Observe our honeybees at work
. . . among many other farm and garden activities.