Ingoldmells Academy contacted me during covid asking how I could support them and their pupils. Due to restrictions at that time we were unable to support them in person, so I sent them details of our digital programme, Farm in a Box Online.
The school, located near Skegness, is within the top 10% of most deprived areas of the country and 62% of pupils are eligible for free school meals. Having seen the impact of farm-centred education, particularly for children from disadvantaged communities, I kept in regular contact with the school, to provide support and make them aware of opportunities as they arose.
Soon after completing the online activities, our national Farm in a Box programme launched: Discover Warburtons Wheat Farm in a Box - the school quickly ordered three! The Box, delivered directly to schools tells the story of wheat through nine, hands-on, pupil-led activities. From seed to sarnie, it provides an opportunity for children to meet real Warburtons farmers and see their farms. They also learn about; grain, flour and how to make their own bread; discover what's in the soil and learn that it can be healthy or unhealthy; taste fresh bread - and perhaps try new flavours, wholemeal or pitta bread!
We were really impressed by the quality of the Farm in a Box Resources. I could see that this introduction to the world of food and farming really helped the pupils get the most out of their visit to Revesby.
It was during this time the school contacted me to ask a couple of questions and, coincidentally on the same day, Revesby Estate confirmed that they would be interested in becoming a new Farmer Host! It felt like everything was falling into place! The school is only half an hour away from the estate, so I quickly set about putting a plan together, working with the teachers to get the children onto the farm.
On Tuesday 12th July, 19, Year 5 pupils arrived at Revesby. As soon as they stepped off the bus the children were asking questions, it was clear to see that the Discover Warburtons Wheat Farm in a Box provided a basic level of understanding about what a farm is; the arrangement, the process, its inputs and outputs… The farmers were amazed!
We started the day’s activities with Feely Bags, a ‘guess what you can feel’ game, except these items were objects that could be found on the estate. The wet fish obviously got lots of shrieks and giggles!
Peter Cartwright the Farm Manager then took us to the yard where he gave the children a tour of the big machinery. The children loved it when he started up the combine, which then prompted some more brilliant questions from the children. How does the driver fill the combine up with fuel, does he have to drive to the petrol station, how can they move the combine on the road as it's so wide?!
Making flour using a hand mill was the next activity. I led this session but, in all honesty, they could have taught me! Having recognised the mills from the Farm in a Box resources, the children were eager to get busy grinding and sieving! We also tried grinding with stones and a pestle and mortar – lots of sympathy for days gone by when this was the only way of making flour! We then identified the crops the estate produces, matching them to dry food products from my shopping bag.
After lunch we were treated to a walk through some of the estate woodlands with ecologist Gillian and the children were in awe of all her amazing facts about trees and plants. The estate has a link with Joseph Banks and the children loved hearing about the history of the estate.
We then walked back through the parkland to see the Fallow Deer herd and the Kangaroo park where we spent the final part of the day bug hunting. The grassland was swarming with grasshoppers, and it was a bit of friendly competition to see who could find the biggest one!
We ended the day with ice lollies on the village green and shared what they enjoyed doing on the day before we said our goodbyes.
It was an amazing day, the children were curious, confident and ready to explore and learn. A huge thank you to Miss Kirby and the teaching assistants for their support in making the day happen and for sharing their understanding of the children’s needs so that together, we could deliver an experience that was right for them - one I’m sure they will remember for a long time to come.
What an incredible first visit for the children and first hosting experience for the estate. I cannot wait to work with Ingoldmells Academy and Revesby in the next academic year.
Verity Chappell - Farm Discovery Coordinator