In The News
Springs Sun, June 2008
Kids Learn the Land at Amazing Acres
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
9:22 PM EDT
Children will flock to Amazing Acres Farm in Holly Springs this summer
for camp. Learning about farm animals and the relationship between
people and the land, children from rising first graders to eighth
graders will have the chance at hands-on experience.
Kesselring shows off Spot the duckling during an open house May 31 at
Amazing Acres Farm in Holly Springs. His parents, Kathleen and David,
started the farm nearly four years ago to teach children to appreciate
the natural world.
Kesselring and her husband, David, started the summer program on Piney
Grove Wilbon Road after their three sons didn’t have anywhere
could go to learn an appreciation for the natural world.
said the family always had lots of animals and different types of
plants growing, even before starting up the farm nearly four years ago.
“We were always the crazy house on the street,” Kathleen
Kesselrings teach children about diversity, patience and kindness as
part of the curriculum Kathleen designed to go along with camp
activities. Each age group learns different lessons centered on farm
animals and the organic plants in the garden.
really lay it on thick, and the kids eat it up,” she said.
“If the kids
can make an emotional connection, they will appreciate the earth. You
can’t get that from a video game or a computer.”
Kids get to
pet, brush and feed farm animals like ducks, chickens, turkeys, goats
and pigs. They also have the opportunity to play games outside and
plant vegetable or flower seeds.
Children can even check to see
if the chickens have laid their eggs each day, while Kathleen teaches
that some chickens lay brown eggs while others lay green ones at
Amazing Acres Farm.
The first and most important topic Kathleen
teaches kids is how to wash their hands. The small groups help keep the
ratio of kids to adults low, but also to make it possible for kids to
have the hands-on experience the Kesselrings pride themselves on.
“It means a lot to me that the kids go away with so much,”
of the animals are considered companion animals; they are not raised
for the meat. The Kesselrings often find themselves a home to strays or
geriatric animals that need a good home to live out their days.
“The animals just find us,” Kathleen said.
“They’re just our little babies.”
ducklings found their way into the farm last week after Kathleen went
to Green Hope Elementary for a school visit with the animals.
two baby ducks were lost and wandered into the school. Some teachers
thought the ducklings belonged to the Amazing Acres Farm and called
Kathleen to come by for them.
Even though the Kesselrings didn’t
have ducklings less than a week old, like the two babies, they accepted
them into their farm family.
The camp was nominated for one of
Nickelodeon’s Parents’ Pick awards this year for best day
awards go out to the best kids’ museum, best toy store, best
space, best playground or park and many other categories in 52 major
cities across the United States.
“That’s quite an honor,” Kathleen said.
said the farm is open each Saturday in October for an open house from
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Parents can also bring children out during the last
week in September when the farm celebrates its membership of the
The farm camp runs at $50 per
child per day or $200 per week. The farm also holds camps on teacher
workdays. Mini camps run at $125.
The farm accepts 35 students for each week of camp. Spaces are still
Acres begins its farm camps for the summer June 11. For more
information on the summer camps, call 919-349-7153 or email Kathleen at
News, April 2008
Decades ago going to the city was a
treat for this area’s rural kids.
These days it’s a trip to the
farm that is a little more exotic.
That’s why Kathleen Kesselring
started the Amazing Acres Farm camp at her Holly Springs home three
wanted to give the area’s suburban kids a chance to experience
country life she grew up loving during camping trips in New York.
“There’s so much
that’s significant on the planet besides ourselves,”
Those things can be seen on the eight
acres that stretch mostly in front of her home close to the N.C. 55
her farm harkens to Holly Springs’ past — goats, chickens,
pigs find a home there — the farm butts up to a piece of Holly
future: a large subdivision.
Kesselring says the neighbors
kids who come to the farm are often from similar suburban
neighborhoods, kids who know more about video games than farm animals.
kids who come to the farm come from schools and other groups and while
at the farm do simple chores around the place, such as taking care of
the animals and the small garden.
And these days, with several area
schools on nontraditional calendars, the farm is busy just about
On a recent teacher workday Kesselring
was hosting a group of about eight children for the day.
They were busy feeding pygmy goats
— really small goats — beneath the hot spring sun.
Kindergartener Damion Younts, 5, loved
the pygmy goats “because they’re so cute.”
the group, which had already spent the morning tending plants, moved on
to see Charlie, a duck whose bill was damaged from a run-in with one of
the farm’s pot-bellied pigs.
Charlie’s bill had healed long
but Kesselring still held him protectively while she told the kids
about how his webbed feet helped him move quickly through the water.
of the farm’s lessons are hands on. Not only is it fun for the
pet the animals and touch the plants they are learning about, it makes
them retain the information better, Kesselring said.
who have retained the information really well are Kesselring’s
Jack, Brian and Matt, who often help teach at the camps.
“I’ve gotten a lot more
comfortable with speaking to people,” said Jack, a sophomore at
Holly Springs High School.
Mostly though it’s
Kesselring’s show and her passion.
The 40-year-old moved the family from
Cary specifically to start the farm.
didn’t grow up on a farm herself, but each summer her family
leave their Staten Island home and go camping in the mountains.
She loves being outdoors and in nature
and her little farm in a way is like coming home.
Contact Beth Hatcher at 460-2608 or email@example.com
& Observer, July 2007
July 2, 2007 Pfft.
... pft. Pfft. On this particular afternoon at Amazing Acres Farm,
campers blew hard on hand-made plastic-pipe shooters. They aimed
marshmallows at pigs, cows, turkeys and ducks, which gobbled down the
This has been
the first summer Kathleen Kesselring opened her Holly Springs farm for
weeklong day camps.
take the farm out to others," said Kesselring, a former day care
years ago, Kesselring began hitching up a trailer and taking part of
her 8-acre farm out to children at schools and festivals. So many
parents started asking "Are you going to do camps? Can we come to the
farm?" -- that she decided to try the idea.
"We just wanted
to provide kids an outdoor classroom and time away from TV and video
games," the mother of three boys said.
camp caters mostly to suburban kids from western Wake County towns,
such as Holly Springs, Apex and Cary. The children spend hands-on time
with animals every day. They brush the coat of Peek-A-Boo, a goat; feed
Daisy, a pot-belly pig; or stroke the shell of Pumpkin, a specimen of
the eastern box turtle, the state reptile.
recruited older students she knew through N.C. State University's
animal science program, the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts to serve as
counselors. And she coaxed a friend --
microbiologist-turned-yoga-instructor Laura Woodall -- to create a
teaches campers about beneficial bugs they might find turning over a
zucchini leaf. Sometimes, they scoop up ladybugs or praying mantises
into glass jars to talk about them, before setting them free. Campers
also recently helped her plant a "pizza garden" of tomatoes, basil,
peppers and oregano.
Xandy Henkel, 8,
of Apex is quick to recite things he learned at the farm this summer.
turkeys are called toms. Goats have four stomachs -- they DO! And
chicks like pecking at shiny things. See, they're pecking at my ring,"
Xandy said, kneeling next to a chicken coop.
nuts about grass," added Sarah Kate Doherty, 5, of Raleigh, grabbing a
fistful of green and passing the clump through the chicken wire.
"Here you go,
chicks," she called. "Chickees ... Come on, chiiiiicks."
When the weather
gets really hot, it's sprinkler time. The children slip and slide and
wallow in shaving cream.
"Some kids have
never played in a sprinkler," Kesselring said, "because of watering
The campers go
home, she said, tired, dirty, sweaty, but happy.
again," said Dylan Wheatley, 6, of Cary. "It's so much fun."
Peggy Lim, Staff
Writer for the News & Observer, Raleigh, NC