Farm visit and learning opportunities
Educational farm visits provide an alternative and innovative space that enables formal and informal learning to take place alongside the more conventional school learning environment.
During these visits, groups of children and young people are able to spend time on the farm undertaking interactive and practical activities. Such activities allow participants to learn about the realities and challenges of food production first-hand. The visits can also complement the learning carried out back in the school environment, by embedding knowledge acquired on the farm into subjects such as biology, geography, economics, ecology and sustainability.
Integration of disadvantaged youth
Going on a visit to an organic farm offers particular benefits to those individuals who sometimes struggle in mainstream education. Groups of children and young people with special educational needs; such as those with learning disabilities or those at risk of exclusion from mainstream education, can often benefit from learning in a new environment. One of the core aims of these visits is to re-engage young people by providing alternative experiences to mainstream schooling and to approach learning from a broader perspective. Such experiences have included opportunities to engage through a range of practical activities whilst on the farm. In a number of cases where practical farm-based activities have been offered, teaching staff and education officers have identified profound improvements in physical and mental health, as well as educational development.
Integration of refugee children
Over the last few years, Europe countries have had to face the challenge of integrating large numbers of refugees into their societies. A special focus of this project will be upon helping refugee children and their families to integrate into their new countries of residence. The “Learning place Bio-Farm” project will offer refugees new perspectives on life outside the refugee camps that many have lived in. Visiting the countryside will also provide refugees with an insight into European life and its associated food culture. Refugees will have the opportunity to ask questions about society, whilst at the same time providing incentives to learn new vocabulary that is connected with the countryside, agriculture and food communities. Farm workshops can also help to minimize language barriers by offering opportunities to communicate through practical, hands-on activities.
Additionally, organic farming is a growing economic sector that needs young and motivated young people to work in it. Farm visits provide refugees with an insight into future job opportunities (organic farmer, baker, butcher, shop keeper, etc) in the industry.
Training Organic Farming educators
Currently, there are very limited existing training offers which are linked to learning on organic farms. This project intends to develop a comprehensive European training course and portal with various interactive tools and learning resources for organic farming educators. The course will support teachers, farmers and other stakeholders in familiarising themselves with the practicalities and technicalities of hosting farm visits.
It will also mean that educators can gain better knowledge of a school’s requirements when visiting the farm. This will help them to link activities to the school curriculum and identify any health and safety requirements specific to a school visit. The course will also provide educators with the knowledge and skills that they need in order to ensure that the needs of disadvantaged pupils and refugee children are considered.
Target groups and partners
The target groups for the course will include a wide range of stakeholders including farmers and farm guides, educational staff and their associated educational institutions, NGO staff members, co-ordinating agencies, trainers and public administration representatives.
The partnerships consists of eight partner organisations from seven countries – Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Poland and the United Kingdom. Between them, the eight partner organisations are able to contribute to the project, a wealth of first-hand experiences and competencies associated with outdoor learning and organic farming.
National dissemination seminars (multiplier events) will be run in all partner countries. Stakeholders including farmers, coordinating agencies, educators, teachers and educational institutions will be invited to attend to find out more about the e-learning course.