The weather was on our minds as we had St Michael's school from Bournemouth over for using the farm as a ‘Living classroom’. The weather forecast was wind/rain and chill. I hardly slept the night before worrying about having 30 soaked and cold kids on the farm from 10 till 2.30. It needed a lot of thought on how we could keep most things in the tunnels (whilst keeping damage to a minimum!) We split the group into 4 and gave them tasks, then I ring an old school bell after 15 mins and the groups rotated round. We had them tying up tomatoes, planting basil and lettuce, harvesting spring onions, planting peas in pots and lots of tasting of pea/beans shoots/asparagus/lettuce/chard/spinach leaves. About a quarter of the kids had no wellies, but how many kids from a city do have wellies?
One of the things I think will stick in their minds was running down to the trees and having all that space. Jostling round, collecting the new leaves to identify them. It also really helped having my two sons, Lewis (our new worker) and William (a very helpful friend!) to make it such fun. I feel 8yr olds probably have enough of middle-aged women around telling them what to do or not to do. By the time Lewis and Phil walked them back to the farm they had kids hanging off them like leeches. By Mondays trip, it was so cold that even in the tunnels the kids had to have their coats done up, but the next day the weather was perfect. At one point when I said they could just flop down in the long grass to chill that is exactly what they did, some of them squirming through it like snakes. Not too cold, hot, wet or windy. You won’t see me writing those words down often. It was then followed by the hottest May bank holiday for 40yrs.
It is now 11th May and I am back to wearing a jumper and hat! It’s always rather stressful having a school party and it needs more organization than people realize BUT it ticks all the boxes for feel good factor and seeing kids just out in the open and we were all amazed at how intelligent their questions were. It's easy to forget how much enthusiasm and excitement kids can drum up, just given the chance to be outside, thinking, feeling and exploring the world around them.
All in all a very rewarding experience for us all.