Edwalton Primary School children are asking for the community to help to keep their farm running as their traditional fundraising events have been cancelled due to the response to Covid-19.
Established in 1972, it is now England’s only school with both a working farm and a 3 acre woodland.
Katy Howard is the Secretary of Edwalton Primary School Parents’ Association and explains why the coronavirus pandemic has impacted on the farm. “The Parents’ Association is a registered charity and 100% of the money raised by the parent and staff volunteers supports the school and its fantastic farm. Covid-19 has led to the cancellation of all our current fundraising events including school discos and the Summer Fayre. In response we have now moved online to fundraise through a Just Giving page to support the farm’s ongoing costs of around £3000 annually for feed, bedding, medication, and vet bills. We even pay for a professional shearer to give our three alpacas their summer haircuts!”
Running the farm is Site Manager, Rebecca Russell, who said, “We are incredibly lucky to have these facilities and the children benefit hugely through a greater understanding of the outdoors and from time spent caring for the animals, -all well documented to improve physical and mental health.
“The farm also has vegetable patches and polytunnels where children grow vegetables, we donate to a local charity to support the homeless. This gives children an understanding of where their food comes from and how they can use it to benefit their community. We also have large garden areas allocated to individual family groups, further developing the atmosphere of community in the school.
“The animals are a great inspiration to children,” said Rebecca, “featuring heavily in learning topics in KS1 and as the children progress to KS2 they are more and more involved in the care of the animals. They relish the opportunity to learn about the unique needs of each animal and to get more hands on – whatever the weather! We are able to demonstrate how farming can be included in a modern-day curriculum, giving children opportunities and points of view they would not have been exposed to otherwise.
“The farm is so important to the school and the effect of Covid-19 has been devastating to our fundraising opportunities. We hope that our community will continue to support us in our efforts to keep the farm running.”
Stefan Beck is a former pupil who loved the farm so much, he now works there as a groundskeeper! He said, “When I was at the school, I loved the farm because it was a great way for someone like me who struggled with learning difficulties to get out and relax myself for a moment. It taught me so much about the different farm animals, and as I progressed through the school, I saw just how important the farm was. I’m very proud to work here and hope to keep the farm going for many more years.”
The farm takes in many rescued animals and has an impressive variety including pygmy goats, alpacas, pigs, rabbits, chickens, guinea pigs and mice, a whopping 200,000 bees, tropical fish and a recent winner with the children, Alex the axolotl!
Siblings Noah (Yr5) and Isla Lazarus (Yr2) said they could not imagine school without the animals. Noah said, “We love our school farm and feeding and looking after the animals. We especially love washing and moisturising the pigs!” Isla, who is hoping to be a vet one day agrees. “The eggs we get are delicious and we like cuddling the chickens, guinea pigs and bunnies.”
“Our farm makes our school unique and great fun,” said Edith Morrison (Yr6) and fellow pupil Jess Harding (Yr6) said “It teaches us about responsibility and how to care for animals. I love getting close to the animals and looking after them, especially on Rabbit Island!”
Harry Morrison (Yr6) said he hopes the community can help. “Feeding the animals makes me feel privileged and proud. I love being able to help and think it’s important for the children that the farm gets support.”
But perhaps summing up the feeling of all the staff and children is Gwendoline Bates (Yr4) who said, “Children learn how to be kind to animals and hold and care for them. We love our school. Please help us save our farm because some of the animals have been with us a long time. It would worry me if they had to go, because I don’t know if they would be OK.”