Arranging residential visits to a farm
Resource: Case study
Located in an inner city council estate in Lincolnshire, Hartsholme Primary School felt it was essential that their pupils had regular access to the countryside. The school approached Rand Farm, which is about 15 miles away from Lincoln, to arrange a ‘rural activity break’. The visit was so successful the children are setting up their own working farm on the school grounds.
Rand Farm Park has been offering residential visits to schools in the area since 2005. Originally, children slept in tents but the farm decided to build a dormitory in the ‘rafters’ of the tea room so that the trips would not be weather dependent. Pupils from Hartsholme spent three days on the farm.
What they've achieved
With only six weeks to go until Hartsholme’s planned 3-day/2-night rural activity break, Rand Farm started to build a 32-bed dormitory plus accommodation for five teachers. There was such a fantastic response from pupils at Hartsholme that two rural activity breaks had to be organised, one after the other and overlapping on a Wednesday - the pressure was on for the builders.
The itinerary for the activity break centred on "Food, Farming and the Environment" and cows. The children started the day by milking cows before taking a trip to the local commercial dairy where the milk is made into a well-known local brand of cheese. Back at the farm, the children made butter and compared it to a shop bought variety. A neighbouring farmer then came in to talk about and offer a tasting session on his ice-cream, yoghurt and sorbets.
Other activities included going on a countryside walk, taking a trip to the local swimming pool and visiting a falconry centre.
Years 3 and 4 will return to Rand Farm for another residential visit and the focus will be on environmental sustainability issues, such as solar energy, straw housing and organic farming.
The relationship between Rand Farm Park and Hartsholme goes beyond these residential visits. The farm gave the children pointers and advice to consider when drawing up their plans for their own school farm. The school will have incubators to hatch chicks and, once old enough, will move to the farm. Rand Farm is also hoping to provide the school with sheep and goats.
What they say
Headteacher Carl Jarvis says: "There are so many hidden benefits gained from taking children out of the classroom and into a new environment, particularly to learn how to grow and produce their own food which is a life skill that we hope will prove invaluable in years to come."
Kay Waring, owner of Rand Farm, says: "Rand Farm Park believes passionately in the future of food and farming, and we will be developing a growing patch where children can plant their own vegetables as well as harvesting those planted by other children. They will then be helping to prepare their own meals during their Rural Activity Breaks and eating the food they have helped to grow.
Through such opportunities it is hoped to continue and expand the importance of good food - grown or sourced locally - which is free of additives and preservatives for the next generation to enjoy."
The difference it makes
Car Jarvis adds: "When designing our new look curriculum two years ago we wanted to place learning outside the classroom, sustainability and healthy living at it’s heart. Our priorities centred on remodelling our school grounds, ensuring that we gave the children regular quality off site visits and establishing partnerships that would be mutually beneficial in achieving our goals. The most important focus was to achieve our aims by giving the children experiences that would be ingrained and long lasting. From that point on we have never looked back and the benefits and overall gains in the children over a year have been outstanding. The children’s knowledge and understanding of food and farming, sustainability and healthy eating has been propelled to the next level and now the children are starting to plan their own working farm here at school.
The Food for Life Partnership has been invaluable and resulting outcomes have far exceeded our expectations."