Farmer Frye brings the farm to the classroom

Published 2:20 pm Friday, October 22, 2021

By SCOTT MIMS / Special to the Reporter

ALABASTER – Farmer Frye wants your kids to know where food comes from. Ahna Frye of Alabaster, who is also an educator, is doing mobile field trips at local schools to teach important facts about farm animals.

Frye and her husband, Cam, own and operate Alleluia Acres Heritage Farm in Alabaster. Frye started doing the field trips in August of this year after breaking away from the physical classroom and becoming a virtual instructor. It was a move she decided to make after the birth of her son, Holland, in November 2020.

Frye’s goal is to connect children with their agricultural roots, showing them where food comes from, why people live on farms and why farms are important.

“When I was in the classroom as a teacher, it became apparent to me very quickly how removed kids are from our food system and just from farm life in general,” Frye said. “Kids these days don’t have those experiences like kids 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago.”

In the classroom, Frye would try to use farm experiences as examples to give students a different perspective. She would incorporate farm situations into math problems, such as how many rolls of fencing one would need for a certain length of property—or she would use chicken eggs as a medium for counting.

When Frye taught at Creekview Elementary, she brought a chicken and a rabbit to school to show during a science fair, and she was surprised how many students were unfamiliar with the animals. That experience was partly what inspired Frye to start her mobile field trip educational program.

“Some kids didn’t even know what (the chicken) was, much less that it gives us eggs,” Frye recalled. “I always wanted to be able to bring animals into a classroom and to be able to teach the kids live, hands-on about why we have the animals and why they are important.”

Because Frye was already in the school system and had taught in three different systems in the Shelby County area, she had the connections in place to start the program quickly. Once she started advertising on Facebook, teachers started reaching out to her about doing one for their students.

The field trips are based on established educational standards. For example, one of the first grade standards is animal adaptations and how adapting helps animals survive. On Oct. 15, Frye took a goat to Pelham Ridge Elementary School as part of her “Milk Makers” field trip where she talked about how fur keeps goats warm in the winter but also prevents them from getting sunburns in the summer—and how horns and hooves protect the animals in their native environment (the Fryes are among a handful of breeders in Alabama of the Oberhasli goat, which is native to Switzerland).

Other field trips Frye offers include “Blast from the Past,” which compares farms of the 18th and 19th centuries with modern-day farms; “Down on the Farm,” which showcases feathered friends and talks about life on a farm, “The Chicken or the Egg” which focuses on poultry and eggs, and “Milk Makers,” which includes a dairy goat demonstration. The Milk Makers field trip also discusses goat products such as cheese and handmade soap. Frye hands out samples of her handmade soap, and each student gets a “Farmer Frye” sticker.

“Our farm is dual purpose—we raise everything for a product, but all of our animals are important because they are threatened in numbers so part of our farm’s job is to not only produce a product for the community but to also repopulate the breeds that they have,” Frye said.

Farmer Frye is available to public schools, private schools, preschools and even home school groups in Shelby, north Chilton and south Jefferson counties. She teaches students from pre-k to fifth grade and is also working on a series of virtual field trips for schools that aren’t accepting visitors due to COVID-19.