Ploughing Match 2019 – Education Section Report
The Ploughing Match Society this year welcomed 90 pupils from St Martins CE School in Brighton to the Ploughing Match at Place Farm, Firle.
This was a slight departure from the norm as it was an urban school that attended from inner city Brighton where as a school of approx 220 pupils, they have only a small yard as a playground and no views from their classrooms that would suggest that they live beside the sea or so close to the South Downs National Park.
Every element of their day shared with you was for the most part, a whole new set of experiences. From stepping off the coach amongst the sheep in Firle Park, followed by a walk through the village and on to the stubble field of the Ploughing Match site to a host of food and farming activities and field observations that could engage their minds and bodies on such a glorious Autumn day. It doesn’t get much better than that for a child on a day out!
Their enthusiasm was palpable and more quality learning and life experiences were presented in a day than in many a school week. The merits of learning out of doors immeasurably enriched their lives and your support and the acquired sponsorship gave them a day to last long in their memories.
Many of their learning outcomes were transported back to school – homemade seed pots which they had planted with wheat, radishes and cress, corn dollies, experiences from the ‘Story of Milk’ where they had made butter and tasted yoghurt and cheese, fruits and vegetables both garden and exotic, which they were surprised to learn started their journey long before the Supermarket on the Lewes Road, along with investigating the uses of wheat from their familiar Supermarket products and grinding the wheat into flour for culinary use back in school – even a unique flock of crafted sheep returned with them!
When the school was visited the following week, they had held an assembly where their day had been shared with everyone. Rosettes awarded to those who were successful in the Family Section entries had received additional Head Teachers Awards and a wonderful display had been produced in the corridor using their ‘Tractor Seed Collage’ at its centre combined with an array of photographs which were labelled and annotated with the words – ‘This year we were the lucky ones to have been chosen to attend the Ploughing Match in Firle’
Without doubt, your support with inviting an inner city school from Brighton proved to be an outstanding success and their insight into your world of food and farming was indeed very special, hugely appreciated and with unique impact.
Those contributors, both financial and practical, before and on the day, who have gradually come to support the Education Section and help it grow could truly see this year the impact and value to the young people that attended. For it is children, as consumers and parents of the future, that we have a responsibility to share our world of work with so that they can really understand why farming matters.
The Society feels it is very important to encourage young people to understand about the Countryside….
Each year we get organized to welcome pupils from a School in the Laughton and District area and a school that has not previously had the opportunity to attend.
This gives pupils the chance to experience first hand the ploughing and observing the machinery, as well as taking part in many other activities ranging from planting seeds and understanding where milk comes from to corn dolly making, grinding wheat into flour, and learning about fruits, vegetables, seeds, wool and Britain’s native wild flowers. We aim for these activities to be free to the children as so many school visits have now become prohibitively expensive for schools when combined with travel costs. Our feedback year on year has been wholly positive from the schools and so we have endeavored each year to make improvements to enhance their experience and special thanks go to all those who support and sponsor the Education Section. Liz Rea coordinates the event for pupils and along with the visiting experts who contribute, they all give their time and expertise for free. This year as a society we are hoping to welcome the children from a school in Brighton where most of the pupils will have never had the opportunity to visit a farm and so the Education experiences we offer on the day of the Ploughing Match will truly be a set of new outdoor, agricultural activities for them to enjoy. Each of the 8/10 groups which rotate through the activities during the day is organized to have the expert volunteers teaching them. This provides a unique opportunity and insight into the World of Agriculture. Such opportunities are what the Society has been credited with providing and gives pupils a wonderful awareness of where their food comes from by using an outdoor learning experience. Young people at such an event mid-week give the event a positive, youthful ‘buzz’ on what is usually a glorious autumn day. It is also where the future of our industry can be secured by offering opportunities to inform and educate the workforce, parents and consumers of the next generation.
If you are associated with a local school and would like more information or to visit the next ploughing match, please use the contact link to get in touch.
Other useful links to sources of educational material are:
- The South of England Agricultural Society’s Education Section
- The National Federation of Young Farmers
- The Ringmer and Lewes Young Farmers Club is currently updating it’s website, but you can find info here
- Plumpton College specialises in providing a wide range of land-based courses in partnership with schools, for those in further education and for those in higher education.
- The South Downs National Park Authority Learning Zone is a great place to learn about the countryside and farming within the National Park
- The Farming & Countryside Education (FACE) website offers a fantatstic resource for anyone interested learning about famring and the countryside
- Spring Barn Farm has experience in hosting educational visits, ranging from nursery and pre-school days out to more structured curriculum-linked options for older pupils, covering a range of topics. This includes A level and degree level.
- Middle Farm is an ideal place to bring children of all ages (and adults too) to bring you closer to a working farm and to many aspects of animal husbandry.
- Open Farm Sunday is organsied by LEAF (Linking the Environment And Farming) and invites the public to visit locally registered farms that open their doors once a year to show the local community what they do and how they do it. Click the link to find the nearest open farm to you.