Meet the PS32 Staff: Farmer Fred

Has your PS32 student come home talking about tasting a radish for the first time or planting vegetables in the school garden for science class? That’s Farmer Fred’s work! Meet PS 32 staff member, Farmer Fred.

"Farmer" Fred, our newest PS 32 instructor, works with students outside in the garden "classroom". This year, he used this big weather balloon to work on aerial mapping with some of the 5th and 3rd grade classes.

“Farmer” Fred used this big weather balloon to work on aerial mapping with some of the 5th and 3rd grade classes.

Farmer Fred is all about increasing environmental literacy in youth.

Fred Wolf has an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies and just finished up his masters of science degree in City and Regional Planning at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute.  His graduate thesis, “Ecological Schoolyard Transformation,” looked at different ways public schools can turn  schoolyards into gardens and vibrant community spaces.

Farmer Fred has done wonders for PS32! Through our school garden program, Fred gives students the opportunity to participate in hands on environmental science learning.  Each grade has its own unit that looks into community based environmental lessons that build on each other year after year.  The lower grades start small and the higher grades tackle larger concepts, finishing with a client based project where the 5th graders work with a local organization in the community.


Do you know about just plants that farmers work with or about all plants? – Andy, 3rd grade
I like to think that I know a little bit about most plants!  Though as I have discovered I learn something new about plants each day.  The things I know most about are plants that are local to the NYC area.  I’m very interested in making habitats that help the birds, bees, and other animals, including people, in NYC.  Even though I am Farmer Fred, I’ve had a lot of help with the farm portion this past year.  One day I hope to know all about the plants that farmers work with!

Which borough has the most farms? – PS 32 student
I don’t have my NYC farm book on me right now, but I’m going to say Brooklyn.  I do know that there are over 700 farms in the whole city.  

Are you from Brooklyn? – Kenji, 1st grade
I am not.  I was born and raised on the south shore of Long Island in Suffolk County.  Same island, just a bit further out.  

Monarch Butterfly munching on milkweed

Monarch Butterfly on a milkweed plant

What flowers do butterflies like the most? – Pia, 2nd grade
Butterflies in our area love the wildflowers that grow locally. Some butterfly larva, the caterpillars, can only eat the leaves of certain plants.  The Karner blue butterfly only eats Blue Lupine and is an endangered species and the monarch butterfly can only eat milkweed.  But most butterflies will enjoy any flower that gives them a lot of nectar, so big flowers and lots of them close together.  

Can you graft two trees and grow a totally different plant? – Lena, 4th grade
I’m still learning about grafting and hope to do some this spring with PS32, but the way I understand it, yes!  You can take a small branch off of an apple tree and graft it onto the root stock of an another tree to turn it into a fruiting apple tree.  Some people do this with old fruit trees to give them new life, replace weaker branches, or give other plants and trees different color flowers on different branches.  

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