Since the last Grazer update the calendar has been full of school visits, youth visits and residential trips. It is always such a pleasure to hear the screams and squeals of delight when children help collect their first chicken egg, see the pigs chomping down on the vegetables we have just thrown them, or narrowly avoiding being licked by a great big cow whilst pushing up some feed. But what I have noticed, and have taken even greater pride in recently, is how much joy the children are getting from the hands-on learning we do around food. From making pizza from scratch, to cooking a three course campfire dinner, these activities always promote so much discussion and excitement, and being able to sit around and enjoy a meal together is always such a great way to develop as a group. Even composting our food waste and seeing what happens to the food we don’t eat here on the farm gives the children a lot of fun and things to think about. Though eating and tasting new things is always a key part of every visit, we’ve been busy with loads of other activities. We have been building shelters, whittling sticks, dipping for underwater creatures, hunting for the varying minibeasts that call the Three Ponds home and creating our own mini habitats to build on our ever-growing bug hotel.
Just last week we had the pleasure of welcoming Percy Shurmer Academy’s Deaf Learning Base back to the farm. If you flick back through previous editions of the Grazer you will see how much fun this group (and me!) had on their last visit, so much so that they came back for more! Once again, we spent two days together having fun, playing games, learning about the farm, meeting new-born piglets, giving the cade lambs a fuss and dancing for worms. Leading the tour was a test for my sign language skills from last year’s visit (I managed to remember a few key signs), but also tested the teachers’ signing skills when we talked about organics and compost!
It was not all farming and bug hunting though. We spent the afternoon making pizza dough and lighting fires by friction, enjoyed eating our pizzas in the community garden and then headed down to the woods for more fun and games around the fire, finishing with a hot chocolate and a story from volunteer Julie Cooper.
The next morning, we were up bright and early for the mammoth task of breakfast and clearing up the Straw Lodge, then spending pocket money in the Farm Shop before I whisked the group down to the River Tern. This was our final activity of the trip and was a team effort to help find critters and beasts that lurk in our meandering river. From nymphs and shrimp to fish and crayfish, we found it all, and all without anyone getting TOO wet.
It is always lovely having school groups visiting the farm, but it is even nicer having returning groups come back year after year. It is amazing to see how much the children remember and also how excited they are to show their friends around who haven’t been before. With ages ranging from five all the way to eleven, hopefully we will be seeing some of these faces year after year as the school continues to return to the Fordhall.
Youth Worker, Volunteer Leader & Residential Extraordinaire
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This article was first featured in the Summer 2023 edition of the Grazer magazine. For more info and to subscribe, visit: