More KS2 pupils from Bowbridge, a junior school in Newark, visited a large pig farm where they could follow the life stages of a pig. Next came a visit to their school by “Ladies in Pigs” a bizarrely named but very practical group of farmers’ wives whose job it is to promote pig products. In a Farmlink project that involved older Key Stage 4 pupils on a Youth Award Scheme, the young people visited a horticultural training allotment to explore the different ways in which fruit and vegetables are grown.
The strength of the Farmlink approach is that it usually involves a series of visits over the course of the farming year. This gives the children a chance to see how farm animals develop, how plants grow, The licensed conveyancer way land use changes over the months. Photographing or videoing crops, animals and/or wildlife on each visit and observing changes through the year. There was a feeling among farmers that young people who lived on the edges of the countryside, in urban fringe areas, knew little and therefore cared little for the rural economy. Farms were, and still are, regularly used as dumping grounds for old cars, vandals destroy crops, farm buildings are damaged, hedgerows and sensitive eco-systems trampled upon. There was the impression that young people in particular who lived in or on the edge of cities felt that the countryside was an alien place.
Even those who live on the urban fringes, and pass farms on their way to school, may know little or nothing about what goes on in a dairy farm, cow shed or wheat field. Through Farmlink Groundwork Trusts have been well placed to encourage schools within their areas to foster closer ties of understanding with the rural environment. In one project Groundwork Erewash Valley encouraged children to map dangerous “hot spots” around the local farm, helping them understand that farms can be very hazardous environments. One farmer told Groundwork that he was “terrified” of children coming on to his farm because his pigs might catch a disease from the visitors.
The Farmlink learning process is two way: often the farmer learns just as much about children from city schools as they do about him or her. According to the Groundwork project officer who arranged the trip, “It was really important to get these children in a place where there are not too many others.