Nature Calls: Farm School for Urban Kids

Verified Non-Profit

Verified Non-Profit

The Description

Imagine that you've spent your whole life in a city. You've played on concrete playgrounds and shuffled around on public buses. Lulled to sleep by city sirens you awake one morning to a rooster crowing. You eagerly run barefoot on to dew covered grass to feed the chickens and collect fresh eggs for breakfast. You spend the day caked in mud and you smell like the horse barn. You end the day exhausted, but you've never been happier. 

This is Farm School, and this is our goal.

At Boston Collegiate Charter School, students come from all 13 neighborhoods of Boston. At the school, located in the southeastern neighborhood of Dorchester, students range widely in race, economic status, and prior educational experience. Some take the train or a bus (or both) from Charlestown or Jamaica Plain; some students walk from just a few doors down, while others make a 50-minute car trek from West Roxbury or East Boston. At BCCS, these students unite and learn from one another.

The staff at BCCS is committed to providing students with a well-rounded, college preparatory education, but we recognize that the most valuable lessons often aren't strictly academic. With this in mind, we seek to provide eye-opening enrichment opportunities to our students from the day they start with us in 5th grade.

Each year, from among our 200 5th and 6th grade students, we send a diverse and select group of 30 to "Farm School" in Athol, MA. For many, the two nights spent at Farm School will represent their first substantial experience outside of their Boston neighborhood, and their first away from home.  

During their time at the farm, students come together in building a shared sense of responsibility, community, and supportive risk-taking. At Farm School, students who may have never spoken to one another find common ground and become friends. Students who have never tried new things suddenly find themselves motivated and eager to do so (many attendees, for example, reflect fondly on having discovered a latent love for fresh vegetables!). On this trip they get down and dirty and quickly gain an independence they did not know they were capable of. They build and move fences, chop wood, plant and harvest garden vegetables, cook, feed and tend to livestock and of course, complete their farm chores. This overnight trip does more than just teach students about hard work and sustainable living; it teaches them that, despite differences, we all share common emotions: trepidation when milking a cow, exhaustion and pride after a long day’s work, delight at making unexpected new friends.


Back Up Plan

Families, if able, make a contribution to help defray the cost of Farm School, but our goal is that financial constraints will never preclude a child from attending. A pledge of $50, or any amount you choose, can help sponsor a child's attendance at Farm School, and will go toward paying for lodging, food, and transportation between Boston and the farm. Your contribution will help an urban 5th or 6th grader discover the joys of rural life and the satisfaction inherent in effortful, productive teamwork.

This year, students will depart for Farm School on Memorial Day.

More information about Farm School and about BCCS can be found at or

Fundraiser Updates (2)


April 10, 2018

We are one week away from our fundraising deadline! Please help us meet our goals by sharing on any social media platform you have!


I cannot express enough how much students learn from this trip. Just living without their cell phones for a few days seems impossible to them now!

Last year's video!

March 6, 2018

Watch it here

Comments (2)

Cori MacDonald April 10, 2018

Thank you so much for your donation Ms. Bortolotto! I know our students this year will have an equally life altering experience!

Christy Bortolotto April 9, 2018

Thank you for providing this amazing experience for the 5th and 6th graders. Claire had the time of her life!

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About the Creator

I've been an urban educator for nearly a decade. I teach fifth and sixth grade inclusion math and science. I aim to close the opportunity gap that persists between my largely poor and disabled students and their neurotypical and more affluent peers in nearby districts.

Investments (8)


Christy Bortolotto

6 years ago


Michelle Lynch

6 years ago



6 years ago


Thomas J Mullen

6 years ago


Rich Strazdas

6 years ago


Kayla Howard

6 years ago


Kimberly Scheltz

6 years ago


Jenny Wolf

6 years ago