Farm academy

Helen Carey - 06 September 2011

Hi there. Helen Carey here. I am working on a great project in London called Farm Academy, which is all about connecting pupils to where their food comes from via residential visits to organic farms and the setting up and running of schools farmers markets and is now working with five schools.

The summer term was extremely busy as I went away with three schools on their farm stays. They were action packed days – groups were kept busy from dawn (literally – up at 6am to assist with the milking) to dusk (and beyond – the first day included a night walk). Other activities included making bread, pizzas (which were cooked in outdoor wood fired ovens), cheese, butter, and harvesting and cooking with local produce. One group visited a farmers' market in the local town to quiz stall holders about what makes them successful – so they are now full of ideas and busy preparing for their first markets which are to be held in October. Funniest comment to date in answer to what did you find out: “chickens are things which make eggs” and “ farmers don’t walk round with straw in their mouths”. All good stuff…

I love this work as it gives me the opportunity to create a long-term working relationship with schools and to really see the difference in pupils as they learn about organic farming, animal welfare, food growing and cooking (to name but a few). All of the schools are getting involved with the Food For Life Partnership as a result of this project.

Stalls lined up so far for the markets include bread (a local baker is is due to run a baking session with the children beforehand), honey (from a local producer), milk (from Bore Place farm in Kent that two schools visited), vegetables (from various local projects), eggs (from Stocks Farm in Essex), and freshly pressed apple juice. Each school will also have their own stall.

I will be blogging regularly during Organic September about how the schools are preparing for their markets and what they decide to sell themselves. So watch this space….

Next week I will be doing a workshop for 90 Year five pupils at Millfields Primary school in Hackney and helping them select which lucky 15 pupils will be going on the farm visit in October. I will also be doing a ‘market planning session’ at Jubilee school in Hackney with the 45 pupils who are leading it. Busy busy. It is very exciting and satisfying work seeing the project come to life.

Helen is the London Schools Farmers' Market Co-ordinator at the Soil Association, and works on a project called Farm Academy, which is all about connecting pupils to where their food comes from via residential visits to organic farms and the setting up and running of schools farmers markets. It is now working with five schools. She'll be reporting on how the schools are getting on preparing to run their first markets.


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susan kobrin
13 December 2011 14:43

hello. i think this is a fantastic project, and i'm wondering how i can persuade my children's school to take part or if they can take part in something like this. can you give me some advice please. i'm currently trying to engage the school on improving the nutritional quality of the school lunches, as well as trying to change the food culture in the school (as they seem to throw sweets and junk around at every opportunity), and also trying to encourage a stronger connection between food and education, so the children understand where their food comes from and how it affects their health. susan

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