Sustainable Agriculture in Action

At Mountainside, the students run a small chicken operation, and work hard to sustain its economic viability. They sell eggs to the parents and feed the chickens scraps from their lunch boxes. They do basic accounting to track their profits and, in some months, their losses.

These chickens have enriched our lives and provided many educational opportunities for our children. They also work much better than speed bumps as they free range around the parking lot!

The work begins with the careful observation of fertilized eggs in the incubation box. The  temperrature must be carefully monitored as well as the humidity.

Candling of the egg lets the children know if the embryo is developing normally. Eggs that are not developing a healthy embryo (quitters) are removed.


After 21 days, the chicks begin to emerge. This is a very exciting time for all the children.


Taking the chicks outdoors for some grass and fresh air is a highly sought after task in the Primary classroom.


As the birds grow, they become part of Mountainside’s natural environment. The sixth grade Chicken Managers  are responsible for feeding and cleaning, as well as health and finance (making the chickens a profitable venture).


As the birds grow and their sex becomes obvious, the chicken managers decide to harvest the excess roosters. They research some recipes and decide to cook “Coq au Vin” for a Thanksgiving meal for all the students.

After the birds are harvested, plucked, and cleaned out, the students – fascinated by the internal organs – ask if they can identify and label them.

One of our amazing parents, Neal Wavra, demonstrates how to prepare the bird for cooking much to the delight of the children.

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Following our Coq au Vin recipe the students begin to chop up the necessary vegetables.  Many of the vegetables are from the Primary students’ garden.


Spuds for the mashed potatoes!

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Primary students get busy chopping apples for applesauce.


Stirring the crockpot!


Of course, a meal is never complete without a yummy trifle for dessert.


This bunch of elementary students got to make sure it tasted OK; from the happy look on their faces, it must be delicious!


The Elementary children begin to move furniture in preparation for the meal.


The tables are set with beautiful tablecloths. The decorations and flowers are hand made and prepared by the Primary children.

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The upper Elementary serve the children from our menu of coq au vin, mashed potatoes, cornbread, applesauce, and trifle for dessert.

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It looks delicious!


Primary and Elementary enjoying their Thanksgiving Lunch.

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We are grateful for all the opportunities that make us a strong Montessori community.