Farm Discovery

Farm Discovery visits are tailored to suit the needs of each individual class.  In consultation with the class teacher, our coordinators plan activities that link in with the curriculum and that support the children's emotional and social needs.

Every one of the Country Trust's host farms is different; a window to a wealth of possibilities.  Children see animals up close for the first time; they run free in open, green space; they get close to nature and become more aware of the seasons.  They discover the role of technology, science and the weather in producing food and they meet people from different walks of life. These encounters with irresistible learning allow children to build a rich bank of experiences.  They fuel the imagination and enrich vocabulary, build self-esteem and act as a spark for future aspirations.

We have a network of brilliant host farmers across England and North Wales who give their time freely because they believe passionately in the need to provide children with first hand experiences of the challenges and responsibility of producing the food we eat and managing the land that sustains us. Country Trust Coordinators - who are all experienced educational professionals - organise every aspect of the visit; they advise on risk assessments, plan curriculum and personal development linked activities and ensure every visit is child-centred, safe and runs smoothly on the day. 

Our Farm Discovery programme is aimed at primary schools with a higher than average perentage of children eligible for Free School Meals.  We also work with Nurture Groups, PRUs, Young Carers, SEN/D schools or other groups supporting disadvantaged chidlren.  There is no charge for these visits; the only expense for schools is transport. 

For schools who fit our criteria and wish to organise a farm visit, please contact Mary Hext or email us at [email protected]

Farm Discovery

Case Study

Corrine Caddy joined The Country Trust at the start of 2017 and is one of our newest Farm Discovery Coordinators. She lives in Great Hayward, Staffordshire and together with another new recruit, Julie Warburton, is responsible for organising farm visits for schools across the West Midlands area.

Corrine comes with considerable experience of working with children and for the past six years was responsible for the hands on educational programme at Shugborough Estate, Staffordshire which attracts 20,000 primary schoolchildren every year.

Corrine tells us about her experience of running her first farm visit for The Country Trust, to Hollywood Farm in Stone, Staffordshire and the impact it made on her.

My first visit as a new Country Trust Farm Coordinator was a trip to a goat spaceship with Burnwood Community Primary School, Stoke-on-Trent.

Actually it wasn’t a spaceship, but the world’s only goat roundhouse at Hollywood Farm, Stone, Staffordshire – it certainly looked quite extra-terrestrial though. It is a special round housing structure divided up like segments of an orange, with lots of Boer goats and their kids spending winter in the pens (segments). It has open sides to let healthy air circulate and the goats enjoy it because they are herd animals and are happiest being able to see each other around the partitions.

When the school arrived, farmers Ruth and Antony Key welcomed the children. They introduced their farm and talked about how to stay safe while there and around the goats. They also talked about the goats needing to be safe from the germs we might bring in - especially the young kids – so we had to disinfect our boots.

After this we met the very friendly goats. There were a lot of new words to learn such as “bucks” for male goats and “does” for female ones. One child asked about why they had ear tags, so Ruth picked up a goat and Antony got a scanner (a bit like a supermarket scanner) which read the number on the tag. They then explained that the ear tag number was a bit like a birth certificate. Everyone had a look the scanner which told us when the goat was born, who its parents were and how many days old it was.

We then took a look at the bedding and learnt it was the left over stalks from our porridge oats. After that, it was time for a girls versus boys challenge.  Grabbing wheelbarrows and bedding down half a pen each and gathering food for the hayrack. Some of the children hadn’t handled a wheelbarrow before and said this was the best part of their day. The girls finished first so we tried to count the goats in the next pen.  This was very difficult because they were playing and jumping around a lot. I could only count 21, but there was 26.

We had a great time on the next activity which was to build square doe and kid pens in teams of two. The metal hurdles are quite tricky to slot together and the pairs really had to work hard together to construct accurate pens.

The next job was to split into two groups and have a go at plaiting pink and orange goat collars and accurately weigh out and measure healthy quantities of goat food. For those who had never plaited anything before, this task was quite tricky. But everyone got the hang of it by the end of the activity. The pupils were allowed to take their handmade collars home.

Finally, it was time for lunch in the farmhouse followed by some colouring and mask making activities. This was much trickier than it sounds as the pupils had to remember the colours on the Boer goats and remember to add horns and ear tags. We used this an opportunity to remind ourselves of some of the new words everyone had learned that day.

The children climbed aboard their school bus happy and excited and all felt they’d had a great day.

When I got home I reflected on the subjects we’d discussed or actively engaged in and was amazed. We’d covered food and farming, animal welfare, recycling, PSHE, mathematics, art, English, DT, science, geography and probably a few more besides. Most importantly, I came away from my first experience as a Farm Visit Coordinator feeling everyone – the children, the teachers, the host farmers, myself and experienced partner Coordinator, Cathy Evans – had enjoyed a really informative, fun day

Farm Discovery

Case Study

If you ask a group of adults “what colour is a cow?” most of them will say “black and white”, if you ask them “what does a one-day-old lamb feel like?” most of them won’t know, if you ask them “what’s the difference between hay and straw?” most of them won’t know and finally, if you ask the group of adults “how long is a pig pregnant for?” most of them won’t know the answer.

Now imagine you are a student, you are not provided with many life opportunities and venturing two miles away to the nearest city is the highlight of your school holiday. You know what a cow looks like because you have seen a picture, you know what a lamb is because you have seen it in a book and you know that a chicken lays an egg. Then imagine that one day, you are provided with an experience that you have never had before, that really brings these images to life.

I work in an inner-city school with one of the highest Pupil Premium rates, where our children have very limited experience of the outside world and the world around them. Most of our children have fled war and conflicts in other countries and come to our school with little or no English. Our children don’t understand about the country or the countryside.

I came across the Country Trust two years ago when I researched “free farm trips”. I’ve been teaching food and farming at my school for three years. I would teach the children where their food comes from and they would shake their head and nod, but I knew they didn’t know, as their knowledge of the outside world is so limited. I would show them videos and they would be amazed and they would try to picture themselves there and still they would nod and smile. I then took them right to the core of where their food comes from, and suddenly they were transformed.

This is our second year taking children on farm visits with the Country Trust. We take a number of classes and are very fortunate to visit different farms, from beef, to wheat and oats to dairy- a vast range of farming!

The Country Trust is vital in our teaching of food and farming. It allows children to first of all visit a working farm, but it also allows the children to get up close to the products that they eat and understand where their food comes from. It allows them to gain more general and fact-based information whilst on the farm and we have seen an increase in their food vocabulary due to the trips run by the Country Trust.

We hear about the increasing number of children not knowing where their food comes from, but also not knowing which product comes from which animal. We see this in school and hear other teachers saying the same. I asked one child where apples grow and they replied underground. This child then went on a trip where there was an orchard and was able to see that in fact, an apple grows on a tree ABOVE GROUND. This is why the Country Trust’s work is massively important.

To end, I would like to say a massive thank you to the Country Trust for their work especially with our school. They are providing essential and critical skills in children’s knowledge of where food comes from and connecting children who mainly come from city life, to a world of countryside, animals, wildlife and landscape.