Anneliese Schools, an award-winning private institution dedicated to providing unique educational opportunities for nursery school through 6th grade, is spearheading out-of-the-box, hands-on learning through the creation of their Urban Farms Program.
Anneliese Schools’ urban farm named Rebel Mountain sprawls across an acre of land in Claremont, Calif. The farm’s proximity to the school has allowed Anneliese to expand their already established environmental studies program further, and the sheer amount of organic fruits and vegetables they produce on the land is astonishing. Rebel Mountain sustains 10 chicken coops and produces between 500-1000 pounds of tomatoes, 200 pounds of kale, 200 pounds of carrots, and smaller crops of basil. Depending on the season, the farm also produces cucumbers, eggplant, peas, beans, potatoes, corn, strawberries, melons, nectarines, peaches, guavas, lemons, apples, mulberries, pomegranates, two kinds of persimmons, oranges, kumquats, plums, figs, onions, garlic, cauliflower, broccoli, collard greens, beets, as well as different types of flowers in order to attract pollinators.
Rebel Mountain is a true testament to Anneliese’s commitment to provide better nourishment for their community. The farm was purchased in the middle of the pandemic, and in a single year was turned from an acre of dirt and infertile soil into a thriving urban farm. Each harvest provides ingredients for the handmade lunches Anneliese prepares for its students, as well as fresh, local produce for purchase at their Pop-Up Shop. Moreover, the regenerative practices of the heirloom farm fuel the school’s lifelong commitment to land stewardship. By growing all of their plants directly from heirloom seed, composting, and having a lower carbon footprint, the school achieves a full-circle system of environmental benefits.
The Urban Farms Program serves as a way to educate children on the flexibility that farming can have, proving that farms do not have to be in the middle of nowhere and that one can grow food in smaller areas all over, even in densely populated cities. The farm enriches and expands the school’s agricultural studies program, an essential element of Anneliese’s Whole Child approach. The Anneliese 6th grade class takes an annual trip to Rebel Mountain to learn from start to finish what it takes to grow and take care of the different produce on the farm. Other age groups at Anneliese also utilize the Urban Farm for educational labs, science projects, and more. With the help of their farm, Anneliese is offering their students increased autonomy and agency in addition to nourishing them daily with organic nutrients. More than feeding the students, this special farm offers children unique opportunities to learn, even while eating. Through daily mealtimes, children are able to expand their mind and their palate by trying new foods.
Not only is Rebel Mountain farm continuing to aid Anneliese Schools with their mission of serving their local community, it is also offering them new opportunities to continue to increase their impact in Southern California. In addition to supplying fresh, local produce to their students and the community through their Pop-Up Shop, Anneliese has set a new goal for the farm. Anneliese Schoolswill continue to grow their Urban Farms Program and expand their reach to provide fresh groceries and produce to underserved communities who wouldn’t normally have access to organic foods. The farm is a perfectly imperfect work in progress aimed at fostering the crossroad of healthy living and continuous learning for their students. Future plans for the Rebel Mountain farm include a wildlife sanctuary, which will act as a home for butterflies, insects, bees, and other small animals.
“We here at Anneliese are so blessed to have been able to get this Urban Farms Program up and running this last year, especially during the pandemic,” said Liesa Schimmelpfennig, Research and Development Director at Anneliese Schools. “This farm has already contributed so much to our local community and the children of Anneliese, and it will only become more impactful with time and new additions like the wildlife sanctuary.”