Lesson 1 – “The Farm Project” of Abbey Home Farm in the United Kingdom
The Abbey Home Farm is located in Gloucestershire, in 50 km distance of Bristol and managed by Will and Hilary Chester-Master. The 650-hectare organic farm is registered by Soil Association and hosts regular educational visits and farm walks. With their “Farm Project” they gained interesting experience with visits of disadvantaged children.
More information: http://www.theorganicfarmshop.co.uk/farm
The Farm Project hosts up to one week long residential visits for children and young people from all walks of life. In July 2015 The Farm Project CIC was established at Abbey Home Farm.
Hilary Chester-Master reports some lessons from her experience with these visits.
“It is important is to choose the right size of the visiting group! Hilary works with groups of up to 10 from disadvantaged communities for close mentoring and support, doing real practical jobs on the farm. If the group is too big an adequate care and support is not possible, and the visitors do not benefit. Furthermore, the farmer or farm guide can be overburdened to give individual counseling “.
Feedback by Janet Ackrill, Learning & Intervention Manager, Dorcan Academy
"The year 7 and 8 SEN (pupils with special educational needs) and Pupil Premium children were primarily students with self-confidence, anxiety, and social skills difficulties. The small group of six children meant that the children opened up about their experiences in a way that they felt unable to do within a whole class, or large group environment.
We saw visible differences in the students as their time on the farm progressed. We saw growth in confidence, and an improvement in social skills. The children bonded together with both their room partners and their working groups and the farm activities allowed for invaluable opportunities for team work. They showed amazing perseverance, which was rewarded with success, and a lot of fun and laughter.
This trip gave the opportunity for positive learning in a wonderful environment which is relaxed and lead by a thoroughly dedicated team at the farm."
Feedback by Lisa Green, Clifton Green Primary School
"We visited for the second time in 12 months with 10 year 6 students. CG is in an area of high deprivation with many of children entitled to FSM. Many of our children may never get the opportunity to visit places outside of York which is why visiting The Farm Project is such an important part of our school year.
The visit is a chance for the children to become independent and to learn how to work as a team. The fact that it is a residential allows time to bond and get to know each other and to rely on each other. Educationally the farm provides the entire curriculum in a practical hand on way. The small group size really allows for each child to have a fulfilling experience. The range of activities allows the children to take ownership of the farm for a week. They take their jobs very seriously and feel a great responsibility towards the animals and each other.
The experience helped the children overcome anxieties around some of the animals. Many of the children tasted many new foods which they have not had the chance to do before. The children developed their knowledge of self-care and became more independent as the week went on."
Feedback by Sharon Batcock, Curriculum Leader, Gloucestershire College
"We visited the Farm Project with a varied group of students with SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) from Gloucestershire College was a challenge for all involved.
The team at The Farm Project was amazing, so open to questioning and eager to make the stay the best experience for the students. It is refreshing to work with people who are able to see the benefits for the students and who do not see the SEND first and foremost. The ethos of the project is so flexible and relaxed that all of the students came away having had a good experience.
For the college the amalgamation of the skills taught throughout the year that was able to be put into practice in a working environment was key. The additional soft skill learning that took place was second to none.
I would totally recommend The Farm Project for experiential learning and development of independence living skills in the sector or SEND within education and for groups of a recreational nature. Positive learning in a positive environment which is relaxed and lead by individualized learning."