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We Have our Own Farm Site! Let's Get Growing!

I founded Sunbeam Nature School last year, in the fall of 2020, with a mission to honor and advocate for children's natural inclinations to play, move, wonder, explore, and more deeply connect with their true selves and with each other, in the outdoors, because that is how children learn best.

In just a year, we've seen success and growth, as well as challenges common to preschools during the Covid era. In spite of these hardships, our school is continuing to grow into our mission. We are now a 501c(3) nonprofit. With the help of the board, I’m excited to benefit our community. We have hopes of expanding our school so that we can offer more spots, offering sliding scale tuition, and forming partnerships that will help us advocate for self-directed learning models and for more outdoor play time for all students.

We also want to offer more connection to the culture of farming here in Petaluma. I’m very excited because we are much closer to fulfilling that mission now: We have just signed a long-term lease on a 2 acre agricultural space that will be our host site for farm and garden education! I am so excited about this farm site! In addition to growing flowers, vegetables, and hopefully raising chickens someday, I am envisioning that children will enjoy wide-open roaming, hill climbing and rolling, cozy gathering in the sturdy chicken coop, and fort building under the limbs of a neighboring oak tree. I can’t wait to see the children there.

The bigger vision for the space, in addition to hosting Sunbeam Nature School field trips, is to open it to the community for drop-in play and gardening time while parents take a breather or gather for a class. This will truly be a dream come true to create a community hub where families feel supported, seen, heard, and valued in their efforts to raise connected, aware, and confident children in a time of change and uncertainty.

To fulfill this vision, we are asking for your help! Here are three ways to get involved:

1. Consider volunteering your time.

There will be a lot of hands-on work time needed at the farm site to get the garden going and make some site improvements. Reply to this email with “yes put me on the volunteer list” so that we can email you volunteer opportunities and community work days.

2. Spread the word.

Please let your friends and family know that we will soon be open for family drop-in play and gardening activities in spring 2022. You can share with them this link to be added to our email list. Anyone on the email list will be offered a free drop-in session.

3. Make a donation.

We have staff to hire, fencing, greenhouse, and other farm supplies to purchase, and improvements to make to both our home and farm sites. If you or someone you know has donation dollars left to spend this year, please consider donating to Sunbeam Nature School. You (or they) can do so via check to Sunbeam Nature School, 3 Natalie Circle, Petaluma, CA 94952, or via Paypal.

Thank you so much for your support! We’ll keep you posted on our developments!

With much gratitude,

Shawna Thompson

Founding Director

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