Above: Goats, chèvre, and student, Isaac Lopez, at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market. 

About 18 years ago, Patricia Pantano and her husband, Greg Nussbaum, started a school in Santa Cruz, east of Española, based on the ideas of Maria Montessori. They began with four students. Today, 17 adolescents (grades 7 to 9) from diverse backgrounds harvest, plant, weed, milk, jar products, feed animals, and manage the pasture. They dry, can, freeze foods, cook, shop, and help keep records for accounting. Other skills include delivering a baby goat, putting a splint on an ailing animal, and trimming hooves. “And on Valentine’s Day,” says a student named Mitchell, “we even married two goats.”

“We’re at the forefront of a global movement,” Pantano says of the farm and its dairy. “In carrying out their farmwork, students are in a living laboratory that includes many components, like chemistry, microbiology, soil science, math, and physics.” They learn collaboration and compassion while connecting to animals and nature, acquiring real-life skills, and exchanging knowledge. “We teach each other things we know about, like basketball or horses,” says Julian as he milks a goat.

Every Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., a rotating group of students heads for the Santa Fe Farmers Market, where they sell organic products from the farm, including flavored chèvre, marinated feta, tomato marmalade and chutney, goat sausage and brats, apple butter, and goat’s-milk fudge. Sample the offerings and take home something tasty.

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Camino de Paz Montessori School & Farm