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Farm to Table dinner Sat. to support Wilton learning program

  • Farmer Lincoln Geiger has spent the last two years building the Gaia Institute at Wild Rose Farm, teaching children skills through experiential learning. —Courtesy photos

  • Farmer Lincoln Geiger has spent the last two years building the Gaia Institute at Wild Rose Farm, teaching children skills through experiential learning. Courtesy photos

  • Alexandria McKay and Mirana Guitman make sheaths for knives at the Gaia Institute. —Courtesy photos

  • Madeline, Eliza, Tatum and Riley Hammer work in the garden at the Gaia Institute at Wild Rose Farm. —Courtesy photos

  • Oliva Lawson and Sofia Quesada pet sheep at the Gaia Institute at Wild Rose Farm. —Courtesy photos

  • Children work to gather mushrooms and identify them at Gaia Institute at Wild Rose Farm. —Courtesy photos

  • Farmer Lincoln Geiger has spent the last two years building the Gaia Institute at Wild Rose Farm, teaching children skills through experiential learning. —Courtesy photos



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Friday, August 03, 2018 2:50PM

A farm to table dinner on Saturday in Wilton is raising money for a new nonprofit aimed at giving children hands-on learning.

Tuesday Lincoln Geiger stepped through the doorway of barn he is uses as a classroom for his new educational endeavor with his two goats in tow.

“They’re house-trained. Mostly,” he said.

A moment later one of the goats had hopped on top of a counter where woodworking might be done.

The Gaia Institute has been a dream of Geiger’s for decades, he said.

The building is a schoolroom, but not one with desks and a chalkboard. Instead, there are workbenches. The building is where children, who attend Geiger’s programs, learn to do things like card wool, spin, work with wood, make instruments like flutes, or tools like knives.

The building needs further finishing, Geiger said, and the Institute will be holding a farm to table dinner this Saturday, which he hopes will raise a portion of the $10,000 needed to complete the building.

Geiger is one of the founders of the Temple-Wilton Community Farm and education has always been part of his farming, he said. Children were frequent visitors, and the farm has been involved with assisting children with 4-H projects. But as he has gotten older, and particularly after an accident with a bull that left him with a serious injury a few years back, he’s been stepping back from the Temple-Wilton Community Farm and focusing on creating a place where children can be immersed in learning some of the skills and handcrafts associated with farming.

In 2016, he started the Gaia Institute in earnest, educating kids through a term-long afternoon program, summer camps and single-day or multi-day experiences for schools.

“It’s all experiential learning,” Geiger said. “Kids get to use their hands, minds and bodies. It’s about learning about nature, farming, learning to take care of the land, plants and animals.”

The children forage for mushrooms, learn basic blacksmithing and copper working techniques, making fire, fiber art and music, as well as haymaking and gardening and caring for the farm’s Icelandic sheep and goats. Geiger said he lets the children’s interest guide them. It’s the best way for them to learn, he said.

“If they develop an interest, the questions come and the learning is so much more efficient,” he said.

For many of them, this is their first experience with many of these tasks.

“The need for the modern kid to do stuff hands on is big,” Geiger said. “They don’t get any physical training, which is important in every aspect of life.”

A boy levering a rock from a hole in the field may not know it, said Geiger, but he’s putting into practice basic physics. Chemistry can be found in the kitchen.

“When you learn these skills, you have something to attach your future understanding to,” said Geiger.

And there are larger life lessons to be taught.

Carding wool, for example, is hard, he said, especially for a child. As they try to comb it, readying it for spinning and removing debris, children meet resistance and have to overcome it. When working with clay, they have to push hard enough to mold it, but not so hard that they destroy the image they’re creating.

“These ideas of overcoming resistance and exercising restraint – they’re important things for kids to learn,” Geiger said.

Geiger said he hopes the program will only grow. In particular, he said, he’d like to work with more children with developmental disabilities, after working with a boy with autism and seeing the benefits he got from the programs.

“It’s a different scale,” he said. “Sometimes, it’s just small increments of improvement. But it’s really rewarding.”

The farm to table dinner in support of the Gaia Institute will be held in the field behind the barn at Wild Rose Farm on 16 Badger Farm Road in Wilton on Sat. at 5:30 p.m.

Entera Artisanal Catering from Brattleborough, Vermont, will provide the cooking and donate all income from the dinner to Gaia Institute. The ingredients for the event will be sourced from the Temple-Wilton Community Farm and other local farms. The meal will be buffet style.

Tickets are $35 and can be purchased at www.eventbri te.com by searching for “Feast on the Farm at Wild Rose Farm”.

For more information about the Gaia Institute, or to find other ways to donate, visit gaiainstitute.org.