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Growing hope for inner city children

Farms for City Children

“Almost a hundred thousand children have been to our farms. But it should be millions. It’s a week that builds their self-confidence and self-worth as they work on the farm, a week full of fun too, the most memorable week of their young lives. It is as important as literacy and maths.

“What we do is more necessary than ever as children become ever more disconnected from the countryside, the environment and the source of the food they eat.”

Sir Michael Morpurgo, author, Founder and Trustee

Farms for City Children was founded in 1976 by Sir Michael and Lady Morpurgo in order to give urban children from all over the country, a unique opportunity, to live and work together, for a week, at a time, on a real farm in the heart of the countryside. The charity now has three working farms based in Devon, Gloucestershire and Pembrokeshire. Every year the charity welcomes over 3,000 8-11 year old primary school children and 400 teachers from approximately 90 schools spread across the UK.

Once the children arrive on the farms they very quickly begin to understand farming, the countryside and healthy eating. The first farm task starts at 7.30am, and the children work through until they feed and bed down the livestock in the early evening. The programme of activities changes with the seasons, and can include milking goats, bee keeping, lambing and calving, feeding and caring for a wide variety of livestock, collecting eggs, grooming horses, pressing apple juice, gardening, bird-watching, cooking wholesome meals, stock-checking, and rural crafts including willow weaving and den making, Ultimately, the charity’s aim is to foster children’s independence and sense of responsibility, and to use teamwork to nurture their social and emotional development.

The farm experience is, for many, a world away from their daily lives. They live as part of a large ‘family’ and are well-fed and cared for in a homely, child-centred, screen-free environment.  In these peaceful and supportive conditions children flourish. Self-esteem and confidence visibly grow as they rise to the challenge around them, learn to take responsibility for what they are doing, and take pride in their efforts. Feedback from teachers consistently shows how children grow from the experience. One teacher said: “The teachers of our school always speak positively about the lasting impact the farm trip has on children. They are more confident sharing ideas in class, work well as part of a team, have increased general knowledge and are calmer in class. Parents and carers report improved behaviour, children being kinder to siblings and more helpful at home.”

Over 80,000 children have visited the farms over the last 42 years and it is clear that what Farms for City Children does is more necessary than ever, as children become ever more disconnected from the countryside, the environment and the source of the food they eat.

If you would like to know more about Farms for City Children or would like to make a donation or find out about volunteering visit www.farmsforcitychildren.org

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