Over 150 schoolchildren from the Three Counties enjoyed a series of hands-on workshops at Hartpury’s Home Farm where they experienced everything from soil sampling to making milkshakes.
The visiting students, all 11 to 14 year olds, descended upon Hartpury’s commercial farm to get a behind-the-scenes look at agriculture and also see how cutting-edge technology is being put to good use in the industry. For some this was the first time they had set foot on a working farm and a round-robin of workshops provided an exciting insight across areas.
As always baby animals were particularly popular, with bleating lambs and cheeping chicks greeting students as soon as they arrived. Adele, from Chipping Camden school, said: “I hadn’t handled lambs before, some of my friends live on farms and talk about them a lot, I didn’t realise how cute they are.”
Science beyond the classroom was on display as students got a demonstration of the breathing mechanism in the lungs of a sheep and a chance to explore how the heart works. Georgia, from Whitecross school in Hereford, wasn’t squeamish about dissecting a bull’s heart: “We’ve looked at pig hearts in our science lessons at school but never anything this big - it’s really interesting to see it up close and I even found the heart strings!”
Weobley High School student Jasmine particularly enjoyed the session run by Cotteswold Dairy, remarking: “Making butter and milkshakes has definitely been one of the most fun parts of the day.”
The Tewkesbury-based dairy brought a selection of their products, challenging the students to taste the difference between organic and standard milk and the students also learned about how dairy products can form part of a balanced diet.
Another opportunity to get hands on involved an inventive home-made dairy cow simulator which lecturer Felicity Coates used to show students how artificial insemination is performed. Meanwhile high-tech machinery was on display with demonstrations on everything from starter motors to hydraulics and even self-driving, GPS guided tractors.
NFU county chairman Tanya Robbins was also in attendance to welcome the visiting schools. She was accompanied by several other members of the organisation who helped to showcase some of the agricultural careers that are on offer and tell the students what life is like on a farm.
Hartpury’s Director of Agriculture, Janatha Stout, said: “It was a great opportunity for young people from the local area to get involved with farming and they all enjoyed the activities.”
“We were able to demonstrate a range of the equipment we use in teaching here at Hartpury and show a new generation of potential farmers how core subjects such as science and mathematics can be applied every day in agriculture.
“Feedback was overwhelmingly positive from everyone who visited and it’s fantastic that we’ve opened the eyes of more young people to the possibilities in the agricultural industry.”