WILLIAMSBURG — Third graders at James River Elementary received a presentation from farmer Justin Diaz and Dusty the Chicken on vegetable growing and chickens Thursday, Oct. 6.
The presentation was organized by SHIP — the School Health Initiative Program — a partnership between the Williamsburg-James City County (WJCC) School Division and the Williamsburg Health Foundation (WHF). SHIP’s mission is to improve the health and wellness of WJCC students and staff by supporting and promoting healthy eating and active lifestyle habits in schools, homes, and the community.
Recognizing many younger students had no idea where their food came from or how it was produced, the school organized for the third-grade class to meet with Diaz from Mockingbird Farmstead.
Mockingbird Farmstead is a small semi-urban market garden with multiple plots throughout the City of Williamsburg, according to its website. Mockingbird Farmstead strives to refocus on the methods and practices that may have been lost to time and convenience, and leverage them against contemporary small-scale farming techniques and university-supported best practices. This includes all-natural practices that don’t use pesticides or herbicides.
Diaz began the presentation by telling students about natural pesticides they can use to keep harmful bugs away from their gardens, including the Dolphin Mart community garden at the school. The discussion then turned to the origin of the eggs, including different kinds of eggs, how different chickens lay eggs and how those eggs can look different depending on the breed of chicken.
Following the presentation, students had the opportunity to pet Dusty as Diaz held the Rustic Rambler chicken.