Davis Forest School – DFC’s 2022 Apple a Day Recipient
Each year, the Co-op donates $0.10 for every pound of apples sold over the course of our fiscal year through our “Apple a Day” program. With 60,275.25 lbs of apples sold from October 2021 – September 2022, we were left with $6,275.25 to donate to a local nonprofit organization.
For this year’s donation, we have chosen Davis Forest School as our recipient.
The $6,275.25 donation will directly support the expansion of their Winter 2023 Program to include an additional skill-based class for 15 more children in the Davis community.
Our Marketing Manager Vince and Education and Outreach Specialist Anna recently sat down with founder Candice Wang, and had her answer a few questions about Davis Forest School:
1. Can you Tell us about Davis Forest School and how it came to fruition?
Davis Forest School is a non-profit nature play and outdoor education organization, and
was founded in early 2018. Our goal is to promote and cultivate understanding of, and
empathy for, the natural world, and for the local bioregion (in particular, the ecosystem of Putah Creek and the lower Sacramento River watershed).
Our programming is based on the forest school model, which meets outdoors in the wild, over time, and is a co-creating experience between children and the Forest Mentors.
This organization came to fruition from me being a mother to very spirited and wild
children. Motherhood was an initiation into deconditioning and healing from certain
aspects of my own childhood, and a commitment to following the lead of my children in
what they need. We discovered the forest school model together, and the first time I
spent hours in nature with my kiddos, I just felt so much peace. I could see all the ways
we are disconnected from our lives, each other, the land, and how important it is to find a sense of connection again. My children’s wildness led me to this work, and the layers of depth with our connection to this land keeps me here.
Davis Forest School is also a testament of what can be created from a tapestry of
community members who share a vision and are deeply devoted and passionate to their work. Rosemary Roberts, a parent to one of our first students, took on running the
school when I moved away for a couple of years, and was the person to establish DFS
as a community entity. We are now supported and led by a team of parents behind the
scenes. We also have the most wonderful Forest Mentors who take so much ownership
over what we do, such as Molly Damore Johann, who was the person to connect us
with this opportunity with the Davis Food Co-op.
2. Why do you believe this way of schooling is a good alternative to formal schooling?
For now, we don’t replace other schooling models because we mostly run as an
afterschool program (although we have a homeschool morning class that we would like to expand!). Our organization is more of a counter environment to the formal schooling that children receive, and divests from our culture’s fixation on busyness. Rather than having a top-down model of education, we allow space for spontaneous learning through unstructured imaginative play and exploration. Our staff members are “Forest Mentors”, and not “teachers”, and take on the role of guides for the kiddos during our time out in nature together. We trust children in their innate sense to learn through play and exploration. Our programming is child-led, although we follow a daily rhythm and include naturalist studies, nature connection routines, and earth skills. When children are told what to do, what they need to learn, or what our time together should look like, this can cause them to shut down and resist what’s in front of them. When children have space to just be, their curiosity and sense of openness expands. Children learn so much from following their curiosities, and by returning to the same natural spaces over and over again, throughout the seasons and years.
3. Why is land acknowledgement and reparations an important part of Davis
Our work is deeply entwined with the land. Since time immemorial, the Patwin people have been stewards of this land. Acknowledging that we are on occupied Patwin land, through words, is the very bare minimum entry into land acknowledgement. We are learning that true land acknowledgement comes from how we run our program, and through partnering with Indigenous folks and support organizations. As a society, we need to move away from a model where we commodify nature, where we view it as something to further extract from. Nature programming can easily become about how nature can serve us. Beyond words, land acknowledgment is embracing and honoring Indigenous models of being in reciprocal relationship with the land.
DFS offers reparations to our Black and Indigenous families because we are running land-based programming on stolen land, in a country that was built on the backs of Black labor. Offering reparations is also a step towards dismantling systems of power, and prioritizing equity, in outdoor spaces.
4. What are some of the things the kiddos have said they enjoy the most in the programs?
We hear from the kiddos that they really enjoy swimming and playing in the creek. They love whittling, building shelter, catching crayfish, and going on expeditions. The kiddos have high-excitement moments when we see certain animals, like an otter eating trout by the shoreline. The children love our Forest Mentors, and having time together each week. At the start of our Fall Program last month, a few children said that Forest School is unlike any school they’ve been to before, and that they are free to play. I think children come into our program expecting what they know to be school, because we have “school” in our name. It reaffirms the work we do when we witness children open up and embrace their sense of autonomy in a higher freedom environment.
5. When someone donates to Davis Forest school, what does it go towards? What
are other ways people in the community can support Davis Forest School?
Right now, all donations go directly towards our equity fund for tuition assistance and reparations, which supports our goal of creating more equity in the outdoor space. People in the community can also support us by continuing to share DFS with others, and by sharing with us grants and funding opportunities that are relevant to our organization. We are in a critical stage of growth and formation, where we need to find the balance between being able to offer accessible programming and being able to provide sustainable jobs for the amazing team we have. I do want to acknowledge how we already feel so embraced by this wonderful community. Davis Forest School is here today because of the people who understand and appreciate the work we do, and have uplifted us throughout the past few years. We very much look forward to expanding and continuing to anchor in this work.
Preparation for Virtual Back to School
Although back to school is very different this year, it is helpful to plan out snack breaks and lunches. Meal prep so that school at home is smoother! Many of our Back to school favorites are on sale 8/21-8/23 for owners!
Back to Schoool Essentials
Meli Wraps are a ziplock and plastic wrap alternative. These beeswax wraps cling to bowls and work great for holding trail mix!
Stasher bags are ziplock 2.0. They are freezer, microwave, and dishwasher safe! These silicon master bags are great for snacks, soups, sandwiches, and more! Make soup in advance, portion out in these bags, and keep in the freezer. When you are ready to eat, place them in a pot of boiling water until thawed or throw in the microwave.
Be prepared with All Good hand sanitizer and sunscreen.
Love Bags makes tote bags, lunch boxes, and more. Best of all their fabric is 100% recycled plastics. Cleaning up the oceans with style!
Kleen Kanteen is a long-time favorite. We got in various sizes to ensure you can stay hydrated! They are insulated and will keep your water cool during this heatwave!
U-Konserve is great for meal prepping. We carry various sizes of these sustainable metal and silicone containers. Prep for the week and these containers stack nicely in the fridge!
Dip or Build
- Bell Peppers and Albacore Salad
- Taco Build (Sweet Potato or Mushroom)
- Pizza Build, use Naan, or make mini pizza dough!