The Recorder – In return to in-person activities, Academy at Charlemont students tour Red Gate Farm

Published: 3/15/2021 5:22:49 PM

ASHFIELD — A trip to a local farm over the weekend was one of the first in-person activities The Academy at Charlemont has had in the past year, just as the school recently transitioned from remote classes to a hybrid learning model.

A group of students, staff and parents gathered on Sunday to visit Red Gate Farm of Ashfield, an educational farm that runs programs involving livestock and the different ecosystems that the land spans.

The trip was coordinated by The Academy at Charlemont’s Parents Council, which normally coordinates a yearly event for staff, students and families.

“This year we wanted to do something outside, obviously, something that everyone could do at the same time,” said Joanne Bourbeau, chair of the Parents Council.

The academy has been in remote classes for most of the past year, and has recently moved to a hybrid model, Bourbeau said.

The trip was originally planned as a snowshoeing tour of the hilly forestland outside the farm proper. But, after the recent warm weather, it evolved into a hike.

Red Gate Farm itself is about 60 acres. Surrounding it are about 120 acres that are not farmable but that are involved in the farm’s educational programs because they exemplify different natural environments, explained Red Gate Farm owner Ben Murray.

“From the standpoint of our program, it’s really valuable because it’s another ecosystem that we travel with the kids and do a lot of exploring and learning,” he said.

Touring the forest, Murray explained that its practical use to the farm is for the most part limited to a small amount of logging. For students, the forest illustrates certain things that farmers must be aware of.

“The coyotes are definitely an issue for us sometimes,” Murray said.

Red Gate Farm’s educational programs typically run throughout the year, but have been canceled for the past year, Murray said. He said he expects to be able to resume programs this spring.

Reach Max Marcus at [email protected] or 413-930-4231.