Magdalen is a working farm in Somerset, providing the perfect environment for schools and families to connect with nature, learn from sustainable living and enjoy time together in the countryside.
We welcome over 4,000 visitors each year and we couldn’t do this without the energy of our enthusiastic teaching team. What’s more, feedback tells us they are a big part of why groups enjoy their visits - so we thought we’d give them the opportunity to tell their own stories.
What do they enjoy most about their work here, what they think our visitors get from being here - and what led them to Magdalen?
Anyone involved in teaching will want to see their learning enthusiastically received and we achieve this in buckets at Magdalen - but it’s no ordinary classroom. All our team believe it’s the natural environment of our 132 acre organic farm that creates a peaceful and safe location for learning, wellbeing and personal growth.
In fact, connecting with the outdoors is also an essential part of why our team enjoy their work. Never mind about the weather - everyone wants to be outside!
Rebecca is our Learning and Wellbeing Manager and has been a trustee of Care Farming UK for the last 3 years. Having taught in the adult sector, mainly with adults with learning difficulties and disabilities, Rebecca gets involved in a variety of areas at Magdalen. From helping devise educational and therapeutic activities to strategic planning - even encouraging escaped piglets back to their mum!
This is a dream job for me. It marries my passions; caring for and educating people about the environment and giving opportunities to people who are disadvantaged. It’s about people and the planet and respecting both and making a positive difference. It’s the combination of the slightly unusual and the wonderful I enjoy!
Our visitors learn, are active and have fun, they develop social relationships and have a sense of connection to each other and their environment. They realise they can make changes; they can have a go at things that they haven’t done before, there’s a sense of freedom and safety here that permits experimentation and risk-taking so changes can and do occur.
Children in particular have a sense of wonder and we capitalise on that natural curiosity to educate about really important life decisions. Being outdoors is really crucial to all of this. Feeling the outdoors with all your senses, getting muddy, holding a grass snake, comparing the seed of a carrot to the incredible vegetable you pull from the ground is the best grounding for all of our futures.
For some of our care farming visitors, Magdalen provides a real haven where they can relax and be themselves without judgements being made of them. We have had lots of families come here to stay overnight who have a child with autism for example and they are so appreciative.
When I discovered Magdalen I knew it was the right place for me. I had brought teenagers to Magdalen on visits and it completely chimed with me, so it was an obvious decision to apply when I saw the role advertised by chance. So, I guess, many different things have led me to Magdalen; experiences, qualifications, passions, perseverance and what feels like a massive dose of good luck!
Linzi is our Organic Kitchen Gardener and Environmental Education Officer. She describes her role as growing as many fruit and vegetables as she can for the kitchen with the help of children and volunteers. She also helps to teach the groups that come into Magdalen - and has experience with care farming and school trip visitors. Her kitchen garden responsibilities also see her co-ordinating the volunteers that are so vital to Magdalen.
I love being outside. The groups that come in are really fun. They enjoy the nature, it’s a beautiful setting. My volunteer role is really important to me as well - I started at Magdalen as a volunteer. Our volunteers are a vital part of how we look after the grounds and the food we produce at Magdalen. We call them priceless and with good reason.
Hopefully they learn to enjoy and love nature a little bit more. And to respect it, look after it and learn why it’s important to them and us and everyone. I like to see them making memories. When I was a child we used to make smelly potions on a school trip and I still remember that now - and I teach it myself to other children so I like to think they’ll take home those memories and it’ll be a reminder for their future that they’ll need to look after our planet.
Being outside provides great experiences you just couldn’t find in a classroom. The best one was when we found a really big snake and we got everyone to gather round and look at it - and all of a sudden it threw up a frog, a whole frog! It came flying out and everyone went euuuuu! It splattered onto the drive in one piece!
I went to Bicton College for a year and did horticulture but I was also teaching and organising play schemes at a sports centre and helping to run them. I saw a chef advert for Magdalen in the newspaper and saw that it’s an organic farm - which immediately caught my eye. So, I came and volunteered for a week and applied for an assistant growing role - and it grew and changed from there.
I have Forest School level one and a foundation degree in horticulture science. Luckily I found Magdalen - and I’ve been here for nearly 10 years now.Back