If you missed part 1 of The day we went to a Farms for City Children Muddy Puddles recently visited Nethercott Farm, the first farm opened by Farms for City Children founders’ Michael and Clare Morpurgo, in 1976, to understand more about the benefits of outdoor learning first hand. As we put our waterproofs on and headed outdoors for the afternoon, I spoke to the teachers to get their thoughts on outdoor learning. They told me that some of the children who struggle in a classroom environment have come to life on the farm, particularly in the forest school, which was their favourite part of the farm, through activities such as building a den, or making a medallion using a saw. They also felt that pupils were really engaging with them (the teachers) which is something they struggle to do at times in the classroom. Outside we hunted for wild garlic shoots and foraged for chestnuts, and it was inspiring to watch the children excitedly compare their finds with each other, and ask the farm staff and teachers about what each one could be. Asking them for their favourite memories of their visit, the children told us how surprised they were by the small, windy roads in Devon, and the wildness of the Dartmoor. Many talked about ‘night watch’, getting to go to the dairy late and night and feed the cows, then watching them being milked the next morning in the traditional, old-fashioned way, and feeding the wide range of other animals on the farms, from the pigs, horses and geese to the many chickens and the far from camera-shy donkey! Lots of the children hadn’t been away from home before, and missed their parents at first, but as soon they were put into dormitories (with fun names and stars for being tidy), which had amazing views out over the rolling hills, they forgot about being homesick. As Dr Tessa Stone, Chief Executive of FFCC told us, ‘it is often daunting being out of your comfort zone, but it can also foster curiosity and creativity.’
Founder Michael Morpurgo’s moving novel War Horse was inspired by the relationship struck up between a boy with a stammer, who visited Nethercott for a week with Farms for City Children, and a horse on the farm. We’re giving one class of 30 the chance to see War Horse at the theatre on 25th
February 2016 as Farms for City Children celebrates its 40th
anniversary next year!