The Avon Grove Charter School Micro-Farm Project grew out of the AGCS Green Initiative: a school-wide program designed to connect students with the natural world through project-based, discovery-oriented learning.  

In the years since the Green Initiative was launched, AGCS students and staff have transformed our 23 acre campus by:
     -  Creating a diverse wildlife habitat 
     -  Increasing forest cover

     -  Planting hundreds of native trees
     -  Enhancing acres of meadows with native plants and grasses
     -  Building a greenhouse
     -  Establishing a system of trails that weaves through nine habitat types


The Green Initiative has flourished through the generosity of
 the Dockstader Foundation, the Dansko Foundation, Project Learning Tree, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Valley Forge Trout Unlimited, the White Clay Creek Watershed Association, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, and the assistance of private donors and AGCS parents.

The AGCS Micro-Farm project was launched to preserve an element of Chester County's rich rural, agricultural heritage for our region's children.

Over the last few years, we have developed an ideal space for students to actively experiment with hands-on, sustainable agriculture and outdoor engineering projects. Since 2003, AGCS students have been gardening on our campus. With the launch of the Micro-Farm project, small-scale gardening has evolved into impressive crop production!

Much of the credit for our enhanced growing capacity goes to Mr. Bill Aff, who joined our Green Initiative team as AGCS Farm Manager. AGCS has significantly expanded the number of raised-bed growing spaces to Micro-Farm proportions. 

Mr. Aff was instrumental in constructing a working aquaponics system in our greenhouse which simultaneously raises food fish (Blue Tilapia) and vegetables on a year-round basis.  Our produce is donated to the Chester County Food Bank, used in the AGCS Cafeteria, and (if there is a surplus) sold to local restaurants.

Aquaponics is a food production system that combines conventional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as snails, fish, crayfish or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. In normal aquaculture, excretions from the animals being raised can accumulate in the water, increasing toxicity. In an aquaponic system, water from an aquaculture system is fed to a hydroponic system where the by-products are broken down by nitrification bacteria intonitrates and nitrites, which are utilized by the plants as nutrients. The water is then recirculated back to the aquaculture system.

As existing hydroponic and aquaculture farming techniques form the basis for all aquaponics systems, the size, complexity, and types of foods grown in an aquaponics system can vary as much as any system found in either distinct farming discipline.

In 2011, AGCS introduced livestock to the Micro-Farm in the form of a small flock of rare Cayuga and Silver Appleyard Ducks. In 2013, our program expanded with the addition of a small flock of Shetland sheep and two Alpine goats.

At the end of the 2013-14 school year, AGCS students experienced their first sheep shearing demonstration by a professional sheep shearer. As of 2015, students have also experienced one kidding and two lambing seasons. Depending on the amount of wool harvested and the number of viable lambs our sheep produce, we hope to sell both pedigree Shetland lambs and wool products (yarn and roving) to defray the operating costs of our "green" programming. Ideally, we would like for Micro-Farm produced products to make our program fully self-sustaining.

As of April, 2015, our Micro-Farm boasts 14 sheep (including five lambs,) four goats (including two kids,) over a dozen ducks and ducklings, several chickens, three rabbits, and 20,000 honeybees!