Under a white tent outside the Saunders Brothers Farm Market, 30 kids with their parents and grandparents crowded around a table Tuesday desperate to catch a closer look at something buzzing on a table.

The children, ranging in age from about 3 to 10 years old, kept their eyes glued on an observation hive that held dozens of honeybees inside.

Glenn Clayton Sr., owner and operator of Hungry Hill Farm in Shipman, talked to the youngsters Tuesday morning at Saunders Brothers about the importance of honeybees and how honey is made.

Tuesday’s event was one of 11 gatherings planned at Saunders Brothers in Piney River as a part of its second annual Kids on the Farm series.

Mari Johnson, farm market co-manager at Saunders, said last year the series brought in more than 100 children, but Johnson expects that number to increase this year.

“We want to educate children on farming and how farming is a part of our food and also how we can all be a part of raising our own food and learning about farming in general,” she said.

Last week was the kickoff of the series, which started with learning to plant a vegetable and flower raised garden bed.

Johnson said the activity brought out 16 children — triple the number from last year.

Clayton, whose family has been beekeeping since the 1960s, said the main thing is to teach the youngsters how important honeybees are in nature.

“If we didn’t have honeybees to pollinate our food, we wouldn’t have any,” he said. “Kids are at their learning stage now, and this is how they learn. Get them out in the field to learn how to plant, how the fruit produces, get their feet and hands in the dirt and learn.”

Reece Miller, 7, said he was interested to learn more about the queen bee, which had been marked with a green dot so the bee could be better identified.

His favorite part of the day was making his own bee bookmark to take home.

He came to a few of the activities last year and plans to come to more this year.

“I thought it would be something fun to do,” he said.

Johnson said she is especially excited about the pie-making activity planned for June 18, where children can make their own mini dessert from fruit produced on the farm.

That event was popular last year, she said. Children were able to chop peaches and make their own mini peach pie with a homemade crust.

New this year is the series’ last event, slated for Aug. 6, called “Let’s Make Music,” where the children will make their own musical instrument and play along with musicians Kim and Jimbo Cary.

Forest resident Jennifer Green brought her two children, ages 9 and 6, to the event this year since they enjoyed the series so much last summer.

“We fell in love with the farm and the people who work here. The Saunders family has become family to us,” she said. “My kids look forward to getting away and doing things a little more simply.”

She said the series gives her children exposure to a different lifestyle.

“We just like getting away and doing something different and learning about things we don’t really know about,” she said.

Jim Saunders, co-owner of the farm, said it is important to help children learn about agriculture and where their food comes from.

“The beauty of this to me is we’re bringing the kids to the farm and they’re seeing the fruits, meats, cheeses and products are coming from a farmer, they’re not coming from a grocery store,” he said.

He said he wants children to connect with the farm and to understand their food is grown locally and in their neighborhood.

“We can bring them out and expose them to the farm and connect them with the product and shake hands with the farmer who grew it,” he said.

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Rachael Smith covers local businesses and nonprofits. Reach her at (434)385-5482

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Born and raised in Lynchburg, I cover local businesses and nonprofits. Email me at: rsmith@newsadvance.com

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