If Christa Hein learned one thing as education director at Stratford Ecological Center, it's that parents are hungry for experiences that teach children about the food they eat.
If Christa Hein learned one thing as education director at Stratford Ecological Center, it's that parents are hungry for experiences that teach children about the food they eat. Parents want their children to understand that animals are a source of food they consume and the fabrics that they touch every day, Hein said. While working at the Delaware County organic farm and environmental-education center, Hein also encountered parents who wanted to find more ways to incorporate the center's lessons in their families' lives. Earlier this year, Hein left Stratford and created Bring the Farm to You, a traveling menagerie that visits birthday parties and schools and teaches children about the animals they meet. WHAT: Bring the Farm to You, a new business that allows children to pet and interact with chickens, goats and other farm animals while learning about the animal's role as a food or fiber source. Hein brings temporary pens and cages and creates animal stations for children to visit. The birthday child is the only one allowed to enter the pens but party guests have plenty of opportunity to pet and visit with the animals. Some animals can be petted over or through their pens. Others are lifted out and held by Hein while kids pet them. WHERE: Your house or the school or park of your choosing. The space must be large enough to accommodate the temporary pens, which can be set up on grass, mulch or hard surfaces. Hein won't take the animals indoors but would consider setting up in a garage. It also is necessary to have a source of water so Hein can fill her animals' dishes. If you host a farm party at a public park or facility, be sure that city or organization renting it to you is aware of your plans. Some facilities may have restrictions regarding entertainment options or require a larger deposit for entertainment of this kind. WHY: The program gives children the chance to see, touch and hear farm animals. The interaction provides ample opportunities for Hein to share facts about the animals. Kids are eager to learn more about what the animals eat, where they live and how they spend their days. Hein's easy way with children creates a comfortable and fun atmosphere. COST: Prices vary depending on what animals Hein brings. Hein does not limit the number of children who attend the party. Payment of a deposit is not required, but half the fee must be paid a week prior to the event and the second half is due on the day of the event. *Fun Farm Party, $297. Visit includes rabbits, chickens, ducks and turkeys. The package includes photo opportunities, a t-shirt for the birthday children and party invitations. *Fantastic Farm Party, $397. Visit includes angora goats, sheep, rabbits, chickens, ducks and turkeys. The package includes photo opportunities, a t-shirt for the birthday children and party invitations. *Supreme Farm Party, $497. Visit includes angora goats, sheep, rabbits, chickens, ducks and turkeys. The package includes photo opportunities, a t-shirt for the birthday children, party invitations, farm decorations and farm-themed toys. WHEN: Parties can be planned for any time Sunday through Saturday. Hein needs an hour to set up and take down the displays. Hein cleans up any animal waste before leaving. WHAT YOU PROVIDE: Party venue, food, beverages, cake, place settings, tablecloths, goodie bags and thank-you notes. TIPS: Since Hein does not limit the number of children attending the party, parents may want to consider hosting a joint party with a friend or neighbor to help defray the cost, or incorporating the animal visit into a larger family picnic or neighborhood event. CONTACT: 614-560-5583, bringthefarmtoyou.com