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Schoolchildren get a taste for life on the farm at the Hadlow Estate

Children learned the difference between different arable crops and the way apples and pears are stored on farm to ensure fresh fruit is available through the winter on a visit to the Hadlow Estate.

15 year-eight children aged 12 and 13 from a co-educational Kent preparatory school enjoyed a geography field trip to the Estate in West Kent, to learn how farming and conservation go hand-in-hand.

Led by Estate owner Kate Teacher and farm manager Ben Amps from Velcourt, the events started with a walk of the orchards to see the new fruit buds on the fruit trees.  Hadlow Place Farm grows Bramley cooking apples and Gala apples for eating, along with Conference and Comice pears.

Schoolchildren visiting Hadlow Place FarmThe children were fascinated to learn that the fruit is stored at a low temperature and a low oxygen level to preserve its freshness for six to seven months, ensuring it is available in the shops and supermarkets for much of the year.  Around 520 crates of fruit are held in each cold store on the farm – and the children worked out this equates to over a million pieces of fruit per store!

The pupils went on to see some of the arable crops growing on the Estate farm, including wheat, barley, peas, beans, oats, and oil seed rape – and spotted some of the birds, insects and plants that also thrive around the farm’s field margins, hedgerows and woodland using a pictorial guide Kate produced especially for the visit.

School staff sent a storyboard of the children’s comments to the Estate after the visit.  One youngster wrote: “I now know the difference between barley and wheat” and drew pictures of both plants explaining barley has a “fluffy top” and wheat does not. Another child wrote: “I learned about arable crops and how farmers are aiding wildlife through different ways.”

Kate said the visit was a great success.  “The teacher has already asked me to do more field trips next year and she has also got another school that is interested too. This could be the start of something where we will do more school visits.

“It has sparked thoughts about learning for us too and I am hoping to arrange more knowledge sharing and educational visits around biodiversity and farming operations.”

Farm manager Ben Amps added: “I particularly enjoy giving back to school children as I believe that showing young people what we do in farming for food production and the wider environment is essential for an understanding of where our food comes from and what is involved in its production.”

After the visit to Hadlow, the children went on to a soft fruit farm where they saw robotic strawberry pickers in action.

Kate said: “What’s interesting about school visits to the Estate like this is that it makes us think about the pleasure of showing how farming works. We can learn a lot from doing them.”

Ben Amps showing students Bramley apple fruit buds
Ben Amps shows the students the Bramley apple fruit buds
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