Boxing Clever - Thumbs-up for New Country Trust Initiative
New Country Trust programme Farm in a Box gets thumbs-up from more than 1750 pupils and staff this term.
The initiative was developed as a response to the COVID lockdown, which hit many of the children the Trust works with disproportionately hard. The Trust wanted to do their bit to aid the healing process but with farm visits and residentials off the menu for most schools, they needed to come up with a fresh approach.
The idea emerged that the Trust could continue to support schools but in a different way – by bringing the farm to them! Each Farm in a Box is linked to a real working farm and is designed to be delivered at school by teaching staff, with a personalised film from the farmer. The aim is that the children will then visit the farm, when rules allow.
Each box is filled with exciting resources such as farm produce to taste, seeds to touch and plant and experiments to try. Activity cards and outdoor challenges enable children to make vital connections between their lives, their food, their natural surroundings and farming.
Having researched teachers’ priorities to help shape the new programme, the Trust linked every activity to the curriculum, with language, communication and well-being woven through every Farm in a Box day.
Teachers told us:
“The children loved the box and that it was addressed to them. They were intrigued and were desperate to open it.”
“The children loved the video, seeing Farmer Michael in his field and finding out what he was doing that morning. It brought the farm alive and now the children really want to visit.”
There was a real buzz and vibe about the day; it felt like a school trip, even though we didn’t go anywhere, it still had all the excitement.”
Children told us:
“I really enjoyed the Sense of Place activity because I got to explore different spots and find my calming place.”
“I learnt that sometimes you can’t always have an easy time farming and it’s actually quite tricky. I also learnt that you can’t always do what you want to do because of the weather.”
“I had never tried half the vegetables that you gave us.”
Before his Farm in a Box experience, one pupil told his teacher, ‘I hate trying new things. I get really worried about doing something new. I don’t like being outside’. Afterwards, he told her how much he’d enjoyed seeing the donkeys on the video and that, ‘I want to go to the farm!’
Extensive feedback from staff and pupils confirmed that Farm in a Box had successfully supported teachers in delivering high quality, impactful, farm-centred events in school, which had brought wide-ranging curriculum outcomes, as well as personal and social benefits for the children. It also confirmed that Farm in a Box enabled pupils to forge connections and build relationships with farmers, farming and the wider world.
Moving forward, The Country Trust plans to develop more resources for EYFS/SEN children and to develop a ‘Climate Change’ Farm in a Box, connecting children to the most important issue of our time.
To read the full report click here