A lot of the schools that visit Magdalen Farm are from urban environments where many children live in homes without a garden. The vegetable patch or the nearby farm - both things that many of us take for granted can be completely absent from their lives. The result is that it’s quite possible for children to grow up with no idea where the food they eat - or don’t want to eat - comes from. That’s a great shame and it needn’t be this way.
Less time spent outside and seeing food coming out of plastic bags and packets means that many children think food comes from a supermarket - or delivery van. So reconnecting children with nature and showing them how food is grown, harvested and how incredibly tasty fresh food can be forms some of the most enjoyable experiences for visiting children.
We introduce children to food in several ways. A popular daily activity is visiting our hens at ‘Cluckingham Palace’ to feed them and gather eggs. We then take our eggs to the kitchen where Mary, our head cook, often explains what she’ll be cooking later on.
Mary enjoys seeing the students get involved with the food before it reaches the kitchen. “I think it’s very important to show them where their food comes from and how it should be reared. They get to see the animal so they understand the source. And the same happens when they go out and pick their veg. They take it from the field and put it on the plate - and, after a few days here you can really see that their thinking has changed”.
Discovering where food comes from features in two of our programmes - which are suitable for all ages and can be built into mosts visits to Magdalen.
Children get to experience life as a real farmer by carrying out valuable and fun day-to-day jobs on the farm, such as sowing seeds, harvesting vegetables, wheelbarrowing watering and animal feeding. We visit the farm animals, learning about animal welfare and different farming practices. In the kitchen garden we go on a taste tour, discuss pollination and look at how changing farming practices affect biodiversity on our farms.
What better way to learn about food than to pick your own fresh ingredients from our kitchen gardens. Choose between using our outdoor cob ovens to cook delicious pizzas or cooking on an open fire to create tasty omelettes. For residential visits, this option includes an activity about seasonality and food miles.
As well as head chef Mary, our teaching staff also enjoy seeing how children learn about food at Magdalen - and just how important it is.
Rebecca is our Learning and Wellbeing Manager. “Being outdoors, feeling the outdoors with all your senses, getting muddy, comparing the seed of a carrot to the incredible vegetable you pull from the ground is the best grounding for all of our futures.”
Linzi is our Organic Kitchen Gardener and Environmental Education Officer - so she’s involved in both food production and teaching children where their food comes from. She sees the difference a visit to Magdalen can make - and has even managed to get children to enjoy sprouts - no mean feat itself!
Linzi says “I like the fact that children will come to the veg patch - they say they won’t eat vegetables but they’ll then eat raw Brussels sprouts and broad beans - I think that’s incredible. Some of them had no idea where their food comes from before their visit.” And the learning doesn’t stop when they leave…
“Teachers will email and ask what they can grow at school - and it’s really easy to grow some things - like salad on your windowsill. A lot of the children say they want to grow it at home - so I’d like to think they do. Even if we are planting a seed in their heads for when they might have their own house, that might inspire them later on in life.”
For further information about booking a school day trip or residential stay at Magdalen Farm, please contact us. Or why not visit our gallery for a glimpse of life here on the farm.Back