Megan Moreno, founder and visionary director of Lanterns Global, and her husband, Saul Moreno, administrative director and CEO of Lanterns Global, are cultivating outdoor education opportunities for our community. The Morenos, new stewards of acreage off Carpinteria Avenue, discuss their plans and programs in the following interview.
CVN: What is your vision for the farm and how is it going so far?
The Morenos: Our vision for Carpinteria Community Farm is to create an educational farm space where kids from all backgrounds and programs (homeschooled, traditionally schooled, after-school programs, and weekend programs) can experience the joys of outdoor learning and farm life.
We have completed Phase One! Phase One included: Making the farm safe (picking/digging up lots of trash and dumped debris that was all over our 2.5-acre plot), putting up a fence around the farm and two lockable gates, having the trees trimmed and pruned to be safe, running irrigation lines and bringing water to the avocado orchard and bringing in organic mulch and wood chips for one section of the farm, a shipping container was donated for storage. A Carpinteria local has donated his time to make 10 cedar picnic tables for us.
Phase Two includes constructing a Gaga ball pit (a game that’s a mix of handball and dodgeball), tilling the ground to prepare for planting, running irrigation lines in our half acre veggie garden and tilling the ground on the remaining open land.
Phase Three includes the planting after the soil is ready. We hope to plant veggies on a half of an acre, a cover crop on a half-acre and a native California Chumash garden on another half of an acre.
Please describe the three programs you currently offer (Terrain, El Jardín, and Farm to Table). What sets each one apart?
El Jardín was our first local educational program that we created with all of our own children in mind, learning Spanish through immersion has been a hope of ours for our children. El Jardín is a Spanish Immersion program that includes focused vocabulary in Spanish, and fun activities, gardening and art projects spoken in Spanish in an outdoor, natural setting. It’s a four-hour drop off program that meets in small pods of 12 students max and has different semester Spanish themes. El Jardín is for kids in grades TK–eight grade.
Terrain is a new program of ours. We created it being inspired by forest schools with one of our daughters in mind, who thrives being outside, adventuring, and moving her body. Terrain has its home base at the farm where they take care of the chickens in the morning and have a daily fable book they read together. From there, they go exploring on the bluffs where they climb trees, look for animals, play, pretend, and hike. Terrain is for kids ages three to six years old.
Farm to Table is another new program of ours that meets at the farm. We are starting very small with one pod of eight children for grades kindergarten through third grade. Some kids come one day, some kids come three days, and they are tutored in all academic subjects in an outdoor, farm setting. Math and Language arts are individualized subjects, where history, science, art and read-aloud books are taught in a group setting. Farm to Table is a five-hour drop-off program and we hope it will continue to grow and be a supportive enrichment program for families.
What drives your desire for outdoor education?
Our own kids drive our desire for outdoor education, for sure. Living out homeschooling these past ten years as a family, I have come to know that my kids enjoy learning more outside in a peaceful place. The more I’ve researched alternative education around the world, studies show that places that incorporate kids spending more time outside have higher levels of learning and happier kids. Living in Carpinteria, and especially after the season of Covid-19 we’ve all lived through, I think we all have a newfound appreciation for the physical and emotional health that comes from being outside.
For those that didn’t attend your recent fundraising event at brewLAB and wish to support your organization, how can they contribute?
We appreciated everyone who came out to our first fundraising event – thank you! And to those who are interested in supporting what we’re doing, thank you! We graciously accept tax-deductible donations through our website: lanternsglobalinc.org/take-action.
What do you and your family enjoy doing together when not at the farm?
We love Carpinteria, and we are at the beach with friends most weekends. Hiking, biking and soccer are some other activities we love to do as a family.