Chapter 2 – Transport
There are a range of transport options available to a school wishing to visit a local biofarm. Transport options and prices may vary from country to country, but there are general considerations that will apply to all when considering costs.
Walking to your local farm
Walking to a local farm is a great solution to potentially high transport costs. If your local farm is easily accessible and routes to the farm are safe, why not try walking? Some schools incorporate the walk into the day’s activities, for example stopping to undertake art activities, observing land use in the area or even foraging for wild foods. You could even ask the farmer to meet you at the school so they can walk with you as well? It is a good idea to plan the route with the farmer and make stops along the way to undertake an activity or two to ensure pupils remain engaged.
Some schools are in an excellent position to be able to use public transport to get to their link farms. This is great experience for small groups of pupils and provides an opportunity to develop essential life skills. If this is an option, it might be worth contacting your local transport company to see if they are able to offer discounts for travelling school groups.
You may have a charitable community transport organisation in your area that operate a minibus service for the local community. Typically, these organisations can provide access to transport for voluntary, community and school groups. They provide subsidised transport options for groups who couldn’t otherwise afford to pay for private transport services.
Link up with your local secondary school or college
If you are a kindergarten or primary school, you may find that your local secondary school can help with transport by providing a minibus and driver as part of their community outreach work. Secondary schools and colleges will often own a few minibuses, so it’s worth getting in touch to see how you can work together.
Hiring a coach
Before hiring a coach, have a think about the size of the group that will be going to the farm. If the group is only small, you may be able to hire a minibus or half-sized coach. This should work out cheaper than hiring a full-sized coach. If you do need to hire a full-sized coach, you might think about how you can maximise its use. Premium rates are often attached to the times around the start and end of the school day when coaches are doing the morning pick up and afternoon drop off. Between these times can sometimes be quiet for coach companies, so you may be able to negotiate a cheaper rate. If this is possible, just ensure that you leave for the farm after school has started and return back before school finishes.
Another way to maximise the use of your coach is to try and work your farm visit so that you can fit two visits into one day. Talk to the farmer and coach company and work it so that one group is taken to the farm in the morning. The coach then brings this group back to school at lunchtime and returns to the farm with a second group for an afternoon visit. If you are to do this, be aware that the visits will be shorter, so plan well to ensure that all your required content is covered. This may only work if the farm is a relatively short drive from your school.
- Look to see if there are farms within walking distance from the school to save transport costs
- Investigate whether there are any farms on public transport routes to avoid hiring a bus
- Look out for any community groups or secondary schools that can offer a free mini-bus
- Order a bus that is appropriate for the size of group and see if you can timetable more than one trip during the day
- Try different coach companies from you school area and your destination as prices can vary a lot