Pupils from three Black Country schools had the chance to get close to nature during an agriculture open day hosted by landed estates business Bradford Estates.
Around 140 children from schools in Wolverhampton and Walsall visited Woodlands Farm in Weston-under-Lizard to find out more about farming and forestry from the Bradford Estates team.
Year 4 pupils from Woden Primary School and Christ Church Junior School, both in Wolverhampton, took part in the day, the first to be hosted by the business, along with 15 pupils in years 3 to 6 from Chuckery Primary School in Walsall.
Bradford Estates, which manages 12,000 acres on the Shropshire and Staffordshire borders, delivered sessions on a range of topics including forestry, soil, farming, wildflower seeds and sheep.
Bradford Estates managing director Alexander Newport welcomed the visitors to the event, which saw the young visitors get close to the Bradford Sheep flock, with expert insights from partner shepherd Alec Hough, who manages the animals on behalf of Bradford Estates.
The other sessions included a talk on the use of robotics in seed production by Nick Birkinshaw from wholesale native wildflower supplier Bradford Green, a demonstration of forestry machinery from Tom Roberts, Senior Harvesting & Operations Manager at Bronwin & Abbey, plus the chance to look closer at soil conservation with Ed Brown, Agronomist at Hutchinsons.
Bradford Farming Director Oliver Scott and his team showed the school groups the vehicles used in farming, including the chance for each visitor to sit in a tractor driver seat.
Lindsay Godfrey, Assistant Headteacher at Woden Primary, said: “The visit has been a fantastic opportunity for our children to experience the countryside in a new way. They have taken so much from the visit as it has allowed them to see farming first hand.
“The range of activities they have done has given them a context for farming and the natural world, thanks to Bradford Estates and their partners, who have been so knowledgeable and friendly. Many of them have seen animals they have never seen up close before, they have been in a tractor and they have gone home with stories which they can talk about for a long time to come.”
Nicholas Bamber, Outdoor Learning Coordinator at Chuckery Primary School at Chuckery Primary, said: “After the wild flower activity and the seeds the children brought back with them, we are thinking of creating our own wild flower mini meadow at school. Experiences like these are so important, especially for children like ours who have little contact with farms and the countryside.”
The event on Wednesday (11th October) was organised in partnership with national educational charity Countryside Learning, which aims to “educate, inform and inspire” children to “enjoy and appreciate the countryside while having a greater understanding of the wide range of issues surrounding it”.
Events manager Barbara Brannigan said: “Our ethos is to get young people into the countryside to nurture a love of nature. Kindling their interest so they respect and care about the environment, whilst experiencing the mental and physical health benefits of being in the great outdoors.
“These collaborative events provide an opportunity for organisations to come together to engage children with interactive food, farming and natural environment activities. It has been a pleasure to work with the Bradford Estates team for the first time to deliver such a successful visit.”
Alexander Newport said: “We were delighted to host the visit by the three schools to promote the countryside and give them a better understanding of agriculture and silviculture. We are very grateful to all of our partners, as well as the Bradford Estates team, for sharing their knowledge and passion with our guests, who clearly enjoyed the visit and the new experiences we were able to offer.”
Working to its 100-year plan, Bradford Estates’ stewardship is centred around its commitment to working as a responsive partner to local organisations.