By Annie Young
Just as spring finally has arrived, families are already looking for new fun ways to spend the sunny days of summer. So get out to the farms! Oakhart Farm and Silver Spur Stables offer unique programs that connect children with a lifelong love of the outdoors.
Oakhart Farm has created Kid’s Club—A Growing Odyssey. This differs from the traditional week long summer camp model. Members get to choose from a variety of programs throughout the summer growing season—and even into autumn. Each week there is a farm day with a theme based on garden growing from 8am–4pm, and two evening programs as well. Programs range from learning about the soil, farming under the stars, and harvesting and creating a delicious meal. They will serve the bounty to Clarke County Senior Center’s senior citizens who will visit the farm that day.
Odyssey members get to choose six out of the eight sessions to attend. Sessions include a snack from the farm, a garden project to make and take home, and a full day of outdoor fun. Odyssey members also get club benefits like discounts on cooking classes and private participation in special events such as the Beneficial Insect Release Day, Pumpkin Patch, and the Fall Garden and Seed Collection Day.
Growing Odyssey is for children ages six to twelve. Younger kids can enjoy the Tomatoes, Snails and Fairy Tales program July 21–22. This popular program has become a tradition at the farm. Children as young as three traipse through the gardens creating and imagining all the wonders around them.
“Sharing the magic of the farm with children,” is Shawna Rinker Hartsook and Becky Roper Lloyd’s mission. These two farmer-visionaries plan and create all the children’s events at the farm. The programs are taught by six Virginia-certified teachers that are all part of the Rinker–Hartsook family. “Kids are part of the culture of the farm,” says Hartsook, “We want to instill in them eating local, growing your own food, and then have them pass it on.” They hope the children’s experiences on the farm help them make decisions in the future that benefit healthy living and a healthy planet. Kids get to become part of the farming community by participating in planting, harvesting and caring for the farm.
The horses of Silver Spur
Silver Spur Farm builds programs around their love of horses and sharing that with new riders. They offer lessons for all ages, but 75 percent of their students are kids. They typically use Tennessee Walking horses, a gaited horse that doesn’t trot. These well-trained horses with good temperament have a gait that is smoother for learners—and even folks with back trouble. Lessons offer a variety of experiences, mostly in the Western riding style. Students get to ride the trails, participate in fun shows, and learn obstacle training.
Wren and Jim Roberts have shared their lifelong experience with horses at Silver Spur Stables for over ten years. Their farming lifestyle that they share with their two young children is also passed on to farm visitors. Wren Roberts talks about their students learning confidence through working with large animals, trying new skills, and caring for animals. “They build lifelong skills that are different than sports. They are learning to communicate with a living, breathing animal,” said Wren. She talks about seeing past students in the community, and how they share their happy memories about their time at Silver Spur.
Silver Spur Stables offers summer camps June 16–18, and 23–25 from 9am–2pm. Children ages seven and older learn basic riding skills, grooming, tacking up, bathing, learning the breeds and colors of horses, trail riding and fun shows.
Silver Spur goes further into creating a fun, unique, memorable camp. Students also get to play mounted games, do a treasure hunt on horseback, and give the horses pedicures by painting their hooves.
Because Silver Spur Stables sells horses, students get to see a variety of breeds in the stables. They also have sheep and lambs, and open their stables to Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and preschool visits.
822 Shepherd’s Mill Road
3399 Old Charles Town Rd