Learning Farm Brings Country to the City
Animals are big draw for students
ANCHORAGE - Most of us never get to experience life on a farm, but there is a place in Anchorage where you can catch a glimpse of it. It’s called The Learning Farm and it’s located in an unlikely place, just off Huffman Road, nestled near a popular subdivision.
The Learning Farm is owned by Deborah Baines, who has lived there for 30 years. Baines has plenty of farm animals packed into her 2-and-a-half acre lot: pigs and ponies, horses and cows, sheep and goats, even sled dogs, to name a few.
Baines says the farm was never a commercial venture, aside from boarding a few horses for others. She acquired most of her animals to share with her own children and other family friends. But over the years, she saw the impression that it made on visitors.
“Even 20 years ago I remember running into some friends a year after they'd been to the farm,” says Baines. “She told me, you know, we pray for your animals every night. Even a year later they still remembered their time at the farm!”
Last year Baines took a big step by deciding to turn the family farm into a “learning center.” Her children mostly grown, she wanted to share it with others.
She became an approved vendor with the Anchorage School District, meaning she could offer field trips as well as learning opportunities for home-schooled students, including some science and social studies credits.
Baines says her first year in business has been a learning experience for her as well, but overall, she has been pleased with the response from the community. She plans to offer summer camp this year as well as activity days that focus on animal care.
She’s also decided to go the nonprofit route and hopes to eventually offer animal therapy for children and others with disabilities. Baines says her hope is to share an experience that isn’t easily found in Alaska, and make it easy to offer a day on the farm.
To see a web-extra video of The Learning Farm from a goat’s point of view, click here.