Farm to Table: Cultivating Minds through Classical Education

“The concept of man as a gardener is highly suggestive: A gardener does not destroy nature, nor leave it as it is. He cultivates and develops it, enhancing its beauty, usefulness, and fruitfulness. So God expects His servants to bring all creation under His lordship. Science, engineering, art, education, government are all part of his responsibility. We are to bring every dimension of life, both spiritual and material, under the rule and law of God.” from Timothy Keller's "Mercy is Not New"

There’s a new trend in restaurants for those who prefer to eat local and organic food: it’s called farm to table. Customers will delight in delicious and beautifully prepared food selected from a menu containing enough adjectives to almost justify its hipster price. Our grandparents’ parents would think farm to table was a trendy way to describe everyday life for the average American family who wanted to survive back in their day. Cultivating a garden, tending to it and preparing one’s own food used to be the norm. Farm to table was just the way it was.

In much the same way our grandparents’ parents would look at the classical education our children are receiving and think: that’s a lot like the way I was educated. Classical education is the way education used to be. At Covenant, we partner with parents to train students in the liberal arts through the Scriptures. We invite our students to explore, discuss, debate and dream as they encounter great works such as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Till We Have Faces and That Hideous Strength. Our school is intentionally old fashioned in our methodology. You might say we are a farm to table school.

Gardens (or farms) and tables are an unlikely pairing as an educational model but stick with me. Gardens are full of soil that is prepared, sown and cultivated so that the harvest reaped can be shared at a table. Our teachers view their profession as a process of cultivating: sowing, tending, and reaping. We are preparing the soil of our students’ minds during the grammar years: sowing much seed, pulling away weeds and allowing our tender seedlings to thrive in the light. Soon we transition our tender plants to the fields, training them to withstand the drought and wind in the logic years. In the rhetoric years, we bring the plentiful harvest of the garden to the table (the Harkness table) to be enjoyed and feasted upon. Education is a feast of the Lord’s bounty. We want to taste and see that the Lord is good. Our harvest may take thirteen years from K-12 to fully ripen but it’s worth each and every hour we spend tending our gardens. As our grandparents’ parents would agree, this would be a harvest worth waiting for.

It is an annual tradition at Covenant to invite our students and families to donate mulch to spread, tools to trim and elbow grease to beautify our campus grounds. This first school-wide service project of the year takes place on a Saturday during the month of September.