Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

May 16, 2013

Growing lesson

Kindergartners get view of farm life at Dargoonian

By Bill Kirk

---- — For two decades, kindergarten students from Sanborn Elementary School have boarded a bus every spring for a trip to Dargoonian Farm in West Andover.

This year’s crop of 42 children from two classrooms marked the 20th anniversary of the field trip last week, arriving at the 23 Blanchard St. farm to learn about plants and life in the fields from owners Tom and Dena Dargoonian.

Dena Dargoonian explained that her oldest daughter, who is now 25, was in kindergarten at Sanborn 20 years ago when she one day announced to her classroom, “I live on a farm.”

The teacher at the time, Candy Bachner, told Dargoonian’s daughter, “Maybe we can take a field trip there.”

That initial outing was a success, prompting Bachner to call the following year to say, “Let’s do it again,” Dargoonian recalled.

“We’ve been doing it ever since,” she said, adding her two younger daughters also accompanied their kindergarten classes on field trips to the farm in following years.

Last week’s young visitors, accompanied by their kindergarten teachers Laraine Woo and Ann Carlson, toured the 40-acre farm, including the greenhouses where the flowers and produce are prepared for sale at the farm stand or to wholesale customers. The children learned how different varieties of produce start in small containers as seedlings and then grow into full-fledged plants.

At the end of the tour, each child got a six-pack of tomato plants to take home with them.

“They take them home and take care of them,” Dargoonian said.

Since the children are learning about the rain forest in their classes, Dena Dargoonian showed them how condensation on the roofs of greenhouses turns into rain.

“They are learning about condensation and evaporation,” she said. “So I tap the ceiling of the greenhouse and all the water falls on their heads. It’s just like the canopy of a rain forest.”

She said she also leads the students on a hunt for hummingbirds and butterflies, migratory species that visit the farm every spring.