The Farmer at the Day School
By Marie Titcomb
Once a month, the children at St. Peter’s Episcopal Day School receive a visit from Farmer Tom Simpson, a kind man who teaches them about planting and growing, and helps connect them to nature. Simpson, a member of the parish of St. Peter & All Saints Episcopal Church at Red Bridge and Wornall, volunteers with the kids because he understands the value of a good relationship between nature and man.
“The single best piece of advice I have regarding equipping a child to appreciate the environment is GET OUTSIDE. Turn off the iPad, turn off the TV. Hike, camp, fish, sail, climb, garden, explore. Nature tells her story best,” Simpson explains. His work, however, goes far deeper than a simple message to unplug.
At each visit “Farmer Tom” takes one concept and explores it thoroughly with the children. He engages with them by giving lessons, reading stories, bringing snacks and doing activities like handing out coloring pages with stickers.
“He has such wonderfully cute ideas,” says Cathy Henson, director of the day school. “The children are always excited to see him!”
Gardening has always been a focus in Simpson’s life. Prior to moving to Kansas City six years ago, he completed the master gardener program offered by the Alabama Extension Service. After moving here, he also has completed the Missouri Master Naturalist program. He maintains the fruit orchard at St. Peter & All Saints, and has a garden plot in the community garden.
When asked about his work with the children, Simpson says he’s happy to be a volunteer. “The School is a ministry of the parish and has been for decades. I respect nature and work to fulfill my role as a good citizen in the city, state, nation and world. Our faith tasks each member to be a ‘faithful steward of God’s bounty.’”
The obligation of being a faithful steward paired with a genuine love of nature is what drives Simpson, and he hopes to pass it on to the younger generations so that they may cultivate the earth. The children’s interest in his visits seem to be proof that he’s already succeeded in this goal.