AP Environmental Science Students Impress with Sustainable Farm Dioramas

Four years ago, when Arielle Chard first began teaching AP Environmental Science, there were at most 35 total students in two sections of the course. Today she has 65 students in three sections. Chard says the course’s growing popularity is what happens “when you make learning fun.” Throughout her 6 years teaching a variety of science courses at Merion Mercy, Chard has offered students engaging, challenging and yes, “fun” assignments. One recent project required them to develop a proposal for a sustainable farm. The impressive results were displayed at January 12th’s admitted students event where prospective members of the Class of 2027 got a glimpse of the academic opportunities they have to look forward to at MMA.

“This project gave the students a farming experience without them needing to get dirty,” says Chard. The assignment called for both a proposal with which to pitch their farm to potential investors, as well a model/diorama of their concept. 

The proposal required a number of elements, including:

  • Purpose/ objectives for the farm: 

    • Vision / Mission

    • Short term and long term goals

    • Products produced

    • Farm sustainability

    • Profitability

    • Materials and staffing needed

    • Size of farm 

    • Location

  • An analysis of the environmental impact on:

    • Electricity

    • Water

    • Surrounding land

    • Pollution

    • Climate change

  • Budget plan

  • Risks, natural disasters and severe weather predictions

  • A statement as to how their farm will make a difference and why investors should offer funding

The model or diorama had several requirements as well:

  • Must be to scale

  • Include a 3-D element 

  • Label at least 15 aspects of the farm

The final step in the assignment was for students to present their work to their classmates, trying to get them to invest in their sustainable farms. Chard was impressed with the proposals and models the students delivered. She notes, “Many went beyond the requirements and added things like a farm logo. They were very creative.” 

Examples of their ideas (as taken from their separate proposals) included:

Molly and Ollie’s Pickle Patch

Sustainable Pickle Farm Diorama

Mission: Harvest pickles in the most sustainable and interactive way, so that we can grow our love of pickles without growing our ecological footprint. Rooted in our pickle-loving community, we want to give everyone the opportunity to taste our signature organic pickles grown from our humble fields in Northern Georgia.

  • Short-term Goal

    1. Our vision for this farm starts with the production of cucumbers so that we can get our picklery up and running- putting our farm on the map within the local community and gaining loyal customers all while increasing the productivity of our farm each day. 

  • Long-term Goal

    1. Start up an interactive pickle-making experience so that others can be fully immersed in our community. After we start selling pickles and the interactive experience, we will begin to make a sustainable profit and continue to grow. 


Perfectly Organic District (POD) Farm 

Organic farm diorama

Perfectly Organic District Farm, or POD farm, is a sustainable and organic pig and corn farm located in Sioux City, Iowa. This is the exurbs and grassland biome with varied temperatures in a seasonal climate. Our products are distributed across 300 acre farms with surrounding lands to expand. Our mission is to produce corn and pig products sustainably with support from local restaurants. We collect scraps from local restaurants to feed our pigs and in return provide discounted products. 


    • Add more fields for a green bean farm 

    • Further develop farm to extend pig farm 

    • Increase profits by 70% over five years 

Julian Acres Farms

Sustainable Farm Diorama

At Julian Acres Farms, we strive to provide organic, non-GMO fruits, flowers, and herbs to our local community. With a system that ensures the outcome of clean and organic foods, we’ll use our farm not only to distribute goods but to also improve the environment. Our plants are strategically chosen to promote the bee and butterfly population, which are key pollinators in the food chain that are in danger due to human activity. At Julian Acres Farm we want to promote clean and sustainable farming practices by using natural fertilizers in the form of a hydroponic farm filled with imported Alaskan salmon and the use of coffee grounds from our on-site coffee trees. Overall, we aim to provide clean, sustainable, and efficient goods to California and eventually expand to the rest of the U.S.


    • Long-term: 

      • With the hopes of expanding our farm, eventually, we also would love to sell our fresh salmon to local restaurants, and our produce to other local farmers' markets. In addition, seasonally, we would like to mono-crop a Christmas tree plantation, where we grow and sell trees to the local community.  

    • Short-term: 

      • Determine the most productive techniques for maximum sustainability and functionality. Hire employees to create this system of production and make it a very profitable farm. Julian Acres will focus on selective tree-cutting in order to make room for new trees we are planting, while still keeping the farm's bio-diversity high.

Borgans Farm

Sustainable Farm Diorama

Vision / Mission: Herb and flower farm where you can pick your own spices and bouquets. On our farm we have organic fertilizer, meaning our fertilizer comes from our chicken’s waste. Due to the number of chickens we have on our farm, we use a concentrated animal feeding operation to provide the chickens with food. Since the chickens are omnivores, they eat our insects and help reduce the number of bugs crowding our farm. We also have bees, which are our keystone species. They pollinate the flowers and we use their honey for profit. In addition, we are located near a river enabling visitors to rent a kayak or paddleboard for the day. To prevent fishery collapse we do not allow visitors to fish in the river.

  • Short-term goals:

    • We want to produce herbs and flowers to make a profit for our small business on the farm. We also want to be able to update our chicken coup and produce fresh eggs to sell for profit. 

      • Long Term

        • We want to be able to expand our land to be able to plant more types of flowers and herbs.






  • Environmental Science
  • Sustainability

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