Farm becomes a classroom near Helston

Primary school children from West Cornwall enjoyed a trip to a farm last week to search for wildlife and improve their knowledge of farming and the countryside.

The Kingfisher Award Scheme (KAS) supported by the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group South West provides children with the opportunity to go onto farms to explore the natural world.

The event is in its tenth year and usually takes place at a different location in Cornwall each year. This year saw a return to Higher Lanner Farm that forms part of the National Trust’s Penrose Estate, near Helston.

Martin Wallis runs the dairy farm with 300 head of milking cattle alongside growing arable crops and potatoes.

Groups from Pencoys, Lanner, Penponds, Rosemellin, Gwinear and St Meriadoc primary schools each spent half a day learning hands-on about the farm and the wildlife that resides in and around it. The importance of the living soil was emphasised throughout the sessions.

Pupils watched nesting swallows, learnt about barn owls that live in the farm buildings and discovered what they eat by dissecting owl pellets.

The lifecycle and age of an oak tree was studied in the wood and insects were discovered here.

There was also opportunity to learn how milk is produced from the farm’s cows. This involved meeting the dairy herd in the pastures, finding out what they eat and exploring, with Martin, a dung heap

Martin, who was pleased to host the event, said:

“I would like to thank the Kingfisher group who organise this event. It is rewarding for myself to see how much enjoyment and knowledge the children gain from it.”

“This was an amazing experience for the children,” agreed Mike Buck, class teacher from Pencoys. “The opportunities were so rich and memorable.”

Each school will now produce a project based on their visit describing what they learnt. Judges will have the tough task of picking the best at a celebration event that the schools will attend at the Penrose estate on Thursday 6th July.

The event is supported by Cornwall Food and Farming Group, Dartington Cattle Breeding Trust, Royal Cornwall Agricultural Association and the Tanner Trust.