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November 18, 2009 > Education and fun at Ardenwood Historic Farm

Education and fun at Ardenwood Historic Farm

By Shavon Walker

Ardenwood Historic Farm is a working farm that allows families and naturalists to learn more about Fremont's history, flora and fauna. Original owner, George Patterson, grew wheat and oats on what was then Patterson Ranch. At its peak, the ranch covered 3,000 acres. Now the property is preserved and operated through a partnership between East Bay Regional Parks and the City of Fremont.

Schools find Ardenwood an excellent educational resource. Park ranger Ira Bletz gives insight into how teachers and schools can use Ardenwood to supplement classroom teaching. "We look at California state standards for social sciences and incorporate them into the programs to connect them to the curriculum," says Bletz. "All programs are as hands-on as possible."

Since the property is an operating farm, younger students are shown modern and classic farming methods. Older children learn about the life of children in the late Victorian era and can see how wool is spun and woven into clothing. They also help in the vegetable garden. Crops include corn, oats, wheat and potatoes. Pumpkins grow seasonally.

"Most of the wheat is sold as feed for organic cows," says Bletz. "Families may help plant potatoes, mostly on weekends."

Tilden Park's animals, as well as Ardenwood's, receive some of the corn and wheat. The potatoes are used in cooking demonstrations. Schoolchildren often glean leftover popcorn from the fields. Nothing is wasted here.

Schools come from all over California to participate in Ardenwood's programs. A Bay Area map shows student visits; one line extended off the map. "That one's from Tracy," laughed Bletz. "Some of these schools are on the road for quite some time."

Bletz noted that for a small entrance fee ($3 adults and seniors, $2 children) and submission of an application, schools may be selected for a field trip to one of Ardenwood's six programs. Ages range from pre-school to sixth grade. The programs are so popular, schools are chosen by lottery. Younger children focus on farms, animals and gardening; older children, explore local history.

For more information about Ardenwood hours, entry fees and educational programs, visit www.ebparks.org/parks/ardenwood

Ardenwood Historic Farm
34600 Ardenwood Blvd., Fremont
(510) 544-2797
www.ebparks.org/parks/ardenwood

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