Form 3 visited Shimpling Park Farm in Suffolk to get an invaluable insight into the countryside, the business of organic farming and the fun of learning outside the classroom. Time on the farm reinforced aspects of the children’s curriculum from maths to science to PHSEE. Head of Geography Miss Grant, described the trip as, “An excellent way of linking food to farming and for the children to learn specifically about wheat as a case study. It also enabled them to get a sense of place and to explore a working farm and link to the work in Geography lessons.” Shimpling Park Farm has been shortlisted for a Bayer award for exceptional farm visits and accredited by the Countryside Educational Visits Accreditation Scheme (CEVAS).
Form 3 learned about the different aspects of each job on the farm and how the business generates a profit. They learned about the importance of mechanisation for a cereal farm and looked closely at seeds from the oat crop. The looked at the growing year and what the farm might be doing during May. Another consideration was thinking about the process of planning each month in simple terms and understanding the difference between a conventional versus an organic farm. To illustrate this, the children organised themselves in their birthday months to help understand the seasons and how the time of the year affects the farming cycle. One Form 3 child commented, “We discovered the importance of natural hedgerows, such as hawthorn, and how the berries and leaves are edible.”
One of the highlights was touring the farm and seeing the grain store, as well as the farm machinery and considering the dangers involved with each machine and farm implement. The children also learned about crop rotation and the importance of sheep during the fallow period, as well as what happens during the lambing process and what a shearling is. “We took soil samples and looked at ‘good’ soil and we found out that there were microscopic animals eating up all the not so good soil so that the new and fresh soil could grow the plants quicker.” Another child remarked, “We found old horse shoes, horse bones and part of a plough in the Ghost pond and read the rain gauge which showed that 9mm of rain had fallen overnight!”