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Agricultural Tours for School Groups at Parkside Farm

The overarching purpose of Parkside Farm is to: impact families with farm education. Parkside Farm is a by appointment only, 8 acre agritourism operation and family-friendly farm in Byron Center, Michigan. Nicole Zaagman, the founder of Parkside Farm offers agricultural tours March - November for local homeschool groups, early education centers, private and public schools of all ages. Nicole is passionate about sharing the 150+ year history of the property that dates back just post Civil War and details of agroforestry and the nature, wildlife and over a dozen different tree species at the farm.

Groups that come for agricultural tours can plan on a hands-on, educational experience with time to meet and learn about the animals that call Parkside Farm home. Animals include: bantam chickens, registered pygmy goats and in June, holland lop rabbits that will be added to the farm. Visitors are introduced and provided an opportunity to learn more about each animal species. Farm tours also include learning about the maple trees at the farm that are used to collect maple sap for maple syrup and in the summer months, tour groups can see where cut flowers, pumpkins and squash grow.

A few of the benefits of Parkside Farm's agricultural tour programming include:

1. Reading Literacy  

Nicole Zaagman makes an effort to incorporate a variety of learning opportunities for families during farm tours. Nicole's children's storybook, Samson the Baby Pygmy Goat, can be incorporated as part of a farm tour for a story time reading for young children. As a life coach, Nicole uses thoughtful questions while reading, such as asking children if they've ever owned a pet and if anyone has been to a farm. Children love to share details about their pets and experiences with them. Children are encouraged to ask questions after storybook readings. Some of the frequently asked questions include: what do pygmy goats eat? Where do the pygmy goats live? How big do they get?, etc.

"Not only are children experiencing the animals at Parkside Farm, they are learning valuable information about a local Michigan farm and agriculture." - Nicole Zaagman, Parkside Farm Founder

2. Hands-On Experience

Engagement of sight, sound and touch. Experiencing a farm first hand engages many sense: seeing, hearing and touching plants and animals. Farm tours include a guided walking tour around the premises of the farm for families to see in person what takes place day-to-day at Parkide Farm. Meeting the pygmy goats might be a first for many children participating. Hearing the different noises they make, children will often "talk back" to the pygmy goats making playful "baaa" noises. Walking and petting pygmy goats are a part of many farm tours and of course requests to take photos with the pygmy goats to show friends and relatives their new four-legged friends.

3. Interactive Engagement

Every agricultural tour includes a presentation to cover the agricultural aspects of the farm complete with props and tangible examples. Families have the opportunity to not only learning about the animals, but learn valuable information about a local Michigan farm and agriculture. Nicole has had children vocalize their desire to pursue careers encompassing farming and animals as a result of presentations. Nicole likes to provide Parkside Farm coloring sheets for children to color or take home. Agricultural farm tours include a stop at the Farm Market before tours are over to provide a curated shopping experience for families to take a memento or souvenir home with them.

If you're a Michigan school, homeschool teacher or children's program coordinator, Nicole would love to connect with you and answer any questions you have about booking an agricultural tour for an educational group. To reach Nicole Zaagman, call or text: 616-201-0220 to get started. Here is a testimonial from a recent agricultural tour client:

"I just wanted to let you know that the farm tour was considered a huge success for our Cadet club. I wasn't sure how much they would like it, but it was a big hit. You heard one participant say that he wants Parkside Farm to be an outing for us every year. I think others felt the same. Thanks again, for showing us all the interesting aspects of your farm, and especially you goats. Thanks too, for your testimony during the presentation. It really reinforces everything we try to teach the Cadets all year." - Agricultural Farm Tour Client

Nicole Zaagman lives in Byron Center, Michigan with her high-school sweetheart and her many farm critters. Nicole is an accomplished, Christian entrepreneur and children's author, passionate about helping women succeed in life and business through coaching. She travels the state of Michigan visiting senior centers, children's programs and special events with her pygmy goats through the Jump for JOY Program™ and operates Parkside Farm. Nicole is a passionate AgVocate for agriculture, agritourism and farm education and encourages families to engage and support local farms in their communities.

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