Farm Academy update
Helen Carey - 07 June 2013
For the last three years I've been running the Soil Association's London Farm Academy project which is part of the Food For Life Partnership and is funded principally by the City Bridge Trust. I have been working with five schools each year - a mixture of both primary and secondary.
In a nutshell it is about getting young people out on residential stays at organic farms of between 2-3 nights (or day visits in some cases) followed by running their very own farmers' market back at school. On the farms they take part in all sorts of food and farming related activities: milking cows, collecting eggs from chickens, gardening, harvesting, cooking seasonal and local dishes from scratch (including wood fired oven pizzas using fresh ingredients from the farm garden), baking bread and making butter and cheese to name but a few!
Sessions are also focused on making a product to sell on their market stall back at school on their farmers’ market. Pupils learnt how to make chilli jam at Bore Place farm and chutneys and jams at Trill Farm. The markets provide an opportunity for pupils to run their own business enterprises selling alongside other local producers - thereby bringing fresh, local (and some organic) produce to school communities and the wider public.
Year One schools: Millfields, Sebright and Jubilee Primaries in Hackney, Poplar Primary in Merton and Eastlea Community Secondary School in Newham. Farms involved were Bore Place in Kent and Paddington Trust in Somerset. All schools have run (or are planning) second or third markets which is fantastic news! Eastlea have their next market on 13 July.
Year two schools: The Bridge Academy PRU (Hammersmith), Fulham Cross Girls School, Corelli College and Charlton Manor Primary (Blackheath), and Risley Avenue Primary (Tottenham). New farms involved were Abbey Home Farm near Cirencester (Corelli College) and Trill Farm in Devon (Fulham Cross Girls). The Bridge and Fulham Cross held a combined very successful first market on 27 April in Bishop’s Park (see photos facebook). Corelli are holding markets once a term - next one on 29 June. Charlton Manor is holding their first one on 6 July.
This year's schools so far: Corelli College (involved for a second year), Bethnal Green Academy and Carshalton Boys. Pupils from both Corelli and Carshalton will be going on residential stays to Abbey Home Farm in July - staying in a yurt camp, cooking meals over a camp fire and maybe sampling the outdoor showers heated by a wood fire they build themselves... Bethnal Green (and Corelli) pupils will be going to Bore Place in September for a day visit prior to running a market in the Autumn and hopefully selling home grown produce from their school gardens. So, it's an exciting project - keep up to date with future markets on facebook.
Helen is the London Schools Farmers' Market Co-ordinator at the Soil Association, and works on a project called Farm Academy, which is all about connecting pupils to where their food comes from via residential visits to organic farms and the setting up and running of school farmers' markets. It is now working with five schools. She'll be reporting on how the schools are getting on preparing to run their first markets.