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October 7, 2013

Kids get taste of bygone life on autumn field trips

TRAVERSE CITY — October is one of Maria Lammers’ favorite times — and not just because she’s preparing to close her Gallagher’s Farm Market for the season.

It’s also the month she hosts about 20 class field trips at the farm just west of Traverse City.

“We pack them in, sometimes two a day,” said Lammers, who has welcomed students, mostly from area elementary schools, for the past five or six autumns. “We have fun with the kids. It’s good for them to come to the farm and do this. They like getting to run around.”

For $5 apiece, children get to navigate hay bale and corn mazes, play “farm” with a miniature barn set, make cider using an old-fashioned juice press, and feed the farm animals, including pigs and lambs. They also get to sample cider and pumpkin doughnuts and choose a small pumpkin to take home.

“This is perfect because they can run from when they want,” said Mary Kolle, one of two lead teachers on a recent Traverse City Area Public Schools Oak Park Preschool field trip to the farm. “It’s not guided. They can do everything on their own, but it’s safe. And it’s child-led interests.They’re exploring what they’re curious about. That’s what I love about this kind of trip.”

Trent Gle, 5, was most curious about the animals but also liked the tractor tire sandbox, from which he scooped out sand with a Tonka dump truck.

“We’ve been here before as a family, so he’s been talking about it for days,” said mom Taffetta Gle, a field trip helper. “His favorite thing was feeding pigs and sheep.”

For Ellena Cotturone, 3, it was a toss-up between chickens and a rabbit.

“She’s having a blast,” said mom Monica Cotturone, who enjoyed the unseasonably warm weather with her daughter. “She wants to hug a chicken, but she can’t catch one.”

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