Church Farm Ardeley

A Free Range Experience


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Community Interests and the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme

The first week of August saw Annie of Rural Care launch herself into the world of the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme. This meant organising, arranging and running two days of activities on the farm for different local community groups.

The first was for a support group for people with Parkinsons which coincided with some miserable weather and a puncture, but as usual with all things Rural Care these small difficulties can be overcome with a bit of planning, preparation and creative thinking.

Chickens were visited and fed, lunch enjoyed and finally with the heavens opening, Church Farm sheep fleeces were miraculously turned into pieces of art.

The following day it was the turn of some Angels to visit the farm which are a support group for children with autism. They managed to get further afield to feed courgettes to the pigs as well as the customary visit to the chickens gratefully prepared by the Angelic Angelina and the rest of the gang from Rural Care.

Lisa from Angels commented on how much they all enjoyed the visit, which also included some planting in the allotment and some play time, and how great it had been to see the farm brought to life.

These visits are supported by Natural England and it is a joy to see people who might not get the chance to enjoy the farm and the countryside being able to get an insight into this way of life.

We are hoping to be able to share photos of the visits from Ray who was the photographer from the first group and Lisa from the second.

So well done to Annie and her support team which included Rural Care, The Café and all the plants and animals.

Chicken Dave

 

 

 

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A Job Well Done

Tuesday 11th July saw the completion of a piece of work lasting several months. Hollybush School invited Rozelle and Chicken Dave to their school to meet the parents of the children who had visited the school on five occasions throughout the annual cycle of the farms year. (see Hollybush School Farm Visits)

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The children produced a rap describing the things they had done on the farm, and Nicky Lawson who was the driver behind the project and a friend of our own Jill Goehringer, set up a beautiful rolling backdrop of many of her fabulous photos from the visits.

Each child had a learning diary relating to their time at the farm, and the parents were able to add their testimonies to the enthusiasm and excitement that the trips created.

We were greeting with smiles and waves greeted and enjoyed the memories of each of the five visits, reminding us of the times we had shared together and the spin offs which included writing skills, drawing skills, epic adventures and a new home for a stick!!

It was a huge endorsement that learning doesn’t only go on in the classroom and that gaining new skills can take place in many places in many forms.

Many thanks must go to the support of the school governors, head mistress, supporting teachers, especially Nicky, the staff at the farm, and the parents and children themselves.

Truly a job well done.

Chicken Dave

 

Farm Rap by Hollybush Young Farmers

This is the learning, the fun and the charm
Of all we have done on our trips to the farm.

We saw the pigs, we saw the cows,
We saw the cat which always miaows.

Baby lams they’re the best,
We wove sheep’s wool to make a vest
(well we made a rug but that didn’t rhyme
So we had to change the truth this time!)

We made a scarecrow and stuffed it with straw,
The birds are gone now but they weren’t before.

We mostly loved the eggs and picking up hens
And seeing the lambs with the mums in the pens.

The bluebells were beautiful, we loved climbing trees,
The tractor ride awesome, we want more if you please.

Finley found a stick that was so long and so cool,
He wanted to bring it back to our school.

Dave said he’d look after it and now take a look,
He’s written a story that will be a book!

We planted strawberries, we climbed in the pooh,
Next time we hope that you can come too.

Time at Church Farm was really sick
It was so great, it went too quick!

To Rozelle and Dave, let’s give a big CHEER
Thanks a million, you’ve made our year!

 

 


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Hollybush School Farm Visits

Over the course of this academic year we have visited Church Farm Ardeley half termly.   Children were carefully selected from years 1–6, ages 5-11years old, who were deemed as most likely to benefit most from a broader educational opportunity.

Hollybush photo

The children have been exposed to a wide range of experiences over four seasons and through carefully planned activities they began to understand how the farm works on an ongoing cycle. Tasks ranged from planting strawberries in winter, which they then harvested and weighed, ready to be sold in the farm shop in summer. They saw large amounts of turkeys in autumn and noticed how they had gone in the spring. However new chicks had arrived in the summer to replenish the stocks. Children made the connection to Christmas. They saw how pregnant ewes were categorised, then newborn lambs arrived which they were able to bottle feed during a subsequent visit. In the summer they then helped to collect the shorn fleeces and attempted weaving, making their own mat.

The children were most animated by the chickens. The journey from being slightly wary during the first visit, culminated in them confidently entering the field and the sheds, happily picking up chickens, feeding them and collecting eggs freely. They learned how to categorise the eggs, preparing them to be sold.

The children were so open to the new and amazing hands-on experiences offered to them. They were guided expertly but sensitively by Rozelle and Dave who adapted activities for younger and older children, answering even the most obscure questions posed.

The children never ceased to amaze me. They pick up on things which we as adults don’t see, finding opportunities which we look past, and Dave and Rozelle embraced this to the fullest. For example when a child found a stick which he reluctantly left at the farm in Dave’s care, Dave transformed this seemingly inanimate object into a character which we hope will become a published book.

The impact of these farm visits, although hard to measure in terms of educational assessment, has been a privilege to witness. Children who struggle academically, have found something to get excited about and excel at. One practitioner who had supported a child in school throughout the year, commented that she had never heard the child speak so much and with so much enthusiasm as when she joined the children during the summer visit to the farm. Several teachers have commented on how animated the children are and how much they want to talk about each visit, which for some is a great achievement in terms of speech and language. They have also been able to relate to their journey on the farm in school, where there has been a connection to the farm in their work . In these cases the children who can struggle in the classroom, have seen themselves as experts, and in some cases have been quite vocal. Children have experienced unequivocal success through practical, ‘real’ experiences which have given them confidence and boosted their self-esteem outside the classroom; it is something which has truly humbled me.

We very much hope that these children will continue to benefit from these farm visits in academic years to come.

Our heartfelt gratitude to Rozelle and Dave. Every child deserves to find success and something to be animated about. Our farm visits have certainly provided a catalyst to help towards that goal.

Nicky Lawson