Pupils blogging: Farm visit reflections

The farm is very diverse, it’s not just growing one specific crop as a monoculture. There are many different types of crops grown, such as potatoes, rhubarb and rocket. There are many herbs as well – mint, fennel, lemon balm and lots more! The farm supports wildlife by setting aside areas where no crops are grown, such as their wilderness area, which has many trees and even a wetland. Wild garlic is growing freely in the forest area. One plant I particularly liked was chives – they have a lovely green stalk, which changes to a stark purple on the flower. The most exciting thing I learned today was about the importance of maintaining soil fertility and using the right manure – for example, some manure makes the soil very high in phosphate, but it is still lacking other important elements. The farm was amazing! My favourite part was preparing and sowing the soil. It was really good fun!

The farm grows many different crops, such as herbs (lots of herbs!), potatoes and spring onions. They also have many trees and bushes. Additionally, there are sheep on the farm, which are used primarily for grazing. Finally, they have a wilderness area, which is a safe haven for animals. One plant we saw was rhubarb – it’s a very big plant, with massive leaves and lots of stems. The leaves are green, with red stripes, and are about 50cm long. The rhubarb also had flowers coming out, which were bright pink. Unfortunately, you have to remove the flowers, so  the plant can put more energy into the leaves! The most exciting thing I learned today was also about soil and how using soil over and over again without taking care of it, can make it unusable and infertile. I really liked going into the tunnels and getting first hand experience about what farm work is like! I also learned that to find out what is the structure of your soil, you get a hand full of soil, add a bit of water, and try to make a sausage. If the sausage could crumble easily, it was fine soil, with lots of sand in it, if it couldn’t, then there was lots of clay in it.

The farm is beautiful in the way agriculture and wildlife live in harmony – fields are separated by pockets of wilderness. It is obvious that wildlife is very at home in this farm! I was particularly impressed by the bronze fennel – it wasn’t flowering, and just had leaves, which were very fine and smooth. The fennel was growing in clumps. I learned that it is really important to take care of soil, and that plowing is not very good for it. I loved the farm and the garden! My favourite part was looking at all the herbs – lemon balm, fennel, spearmint, min, apple mint!

The farm is beautiful! They have a wide range of plants and animals, both wild and farmed. They have potatoes, rhubarb growing in abundance, and a forest full of wild garlic. We were told to brake of the rhubarb flowers, so that the plant doesn’t use all its energy into flowers and seeds. There were many different herbs, of which I most liked the fennel – I even added some to my lunch! The leaves of the fennel were dark green with a purple tint – we also talked about fennel toothpaste! I learned so many things – for example that putting too much manure into the soil is not good for it, and that all the chemicals which are used in agriculture go from the soil, to the plants, and then to the animals. The farm visit was amazing and totally cool! They have a wilderness area to encourage animals, and the farm is organic and very biodiverse. My favourite part was looking at all the different herbs! The visit was very informational, interesting and fun!

 

Farm visit

IMG_4167Yesterday Trinity Academy Gardening Club was fortunate enough to visit Phantassie Organic Farm in East Linton. It was a beautiful day, spent on a beautiful farm! We met local farmers, got a tour of the farm, and even engaged in some practical work – we prepared and sowed a bed of rocket and mustard greens. We learned about what makes plants annual, biannual or perennial, with examples for each category, and deepened out knowledge of plant interactions and competition through observing the forest floor – the wild garlic is in full bloom, trying to use up the last sunny days it will get before the trees leaf out and it gets shaded out.

We talked about soil fertility and the importance of taking care of your soil to ensure it produces a good yield for many years to come. We even learned about phosphate and different types of manure! We had a lot of great discussions with the Head Gardener, Guy, who also taught us about plant groups and rotational farming. The farm visit was a full daytrip with so many highlights, that they all merge together into a sunny day full of happiness and knowledge.

I particularly enjoyed the herb tasting session – so many different types of mint! And a bronze fennel, that even I, a less than enthusiastic fan of normal fennel, enjoyed. The walk in the wilderness, as well as the Questions & Answers session were great successes, and I felt very proud of my pupils, who asked such great questions and listened carefully to what Guy was saying about supporting farm wildlife and the crucial role of farmers in our world. The visit was even better than what I had envisioned in my dreams (and I had been dreaming about it for months!), and  I would like to extend a most sincere thank you to Phantassie Organic Farm. The farm not only welcomed us for the full day, but also sent us home with a box full of seedlings for our allotment. They have a great veg box delivery scheme, with more information available on their website.

Pupils blogging: Allotment progress

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Since our founding in September the Trinity Gardening Club has flourished by taking part in many fun, creative and exciting activities. We have learnt a lot in the past few months about vegetables, gardening techniques and different types of farming.

I along with our other members are enjoying ourselves a lot. We recently began to plan our garden and are deciding on what crops to grow, where to put them and when would be best to plant them. We have also been in the CDT workshop making signs that will be put in the ground along with the crops to signify what crops are where.

After much discussion we have decided on what crops to put where and are as:

  1. Sugarsnap peas
  2. Radish
  3. Pumpkin
  4. Cauliflower
  5. Red currant
  6. Leeks
  7. Carrots
  8. Lettuce
  9. Parsley
  10. Strawberry
  11. Potatoes
  12. Sunflower
  13. Nasturtium
  14. Borage
  15. Marigold
  16. Raspberry
  17. Basil
  18. Rosemary
  19. Swiss chard
  20. Parsnip

By Ben

Pupils blogging: Reflections on farming

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Last week we settled down with a quiz sheet and watched an hour long documentary (called Grow!) about organic farming.

The film was about young people who were (for the most part) not from a farming family and had got into farming. They weren’t doing just any farming though; organic farming is farming without nasty chemicals and unnatural fertilizers. this means the plants are safer and tastier when it comes to eating them, but it’s hard work; It’s like normal gardening but on a much, much, much BIGGER SCALE!  We saw how hard it was for the farmers to deal with the stereotypes- most people didn’t think they were farmers unless they wore checked shirts chewed barley!

 We all definitely learned lots, and what the young farmers have been doing is really inspiring- by the end we were all bursting with fresh ideas for our allotment space!

By Hannah

Trinity Gardens come to life!

It has been a very exciting week for Gardening Club! Encouraged by the wonderful weather, yesterday we ventured into the Community Gardens with a mission – to plant our peas, radishes and carrots. We did some final soil preparation, took out the few weeds that had managed to creep in since our last weeding session (including some sycamore seedlings, well spotted and identified by one of the pupils!), and officially started our allotment garden!IMG_4035

It was probably one of our most upbeat (and busy!) sessions to date, but I believe we all truly felt like gardeners. It was one of those magical afternoons with perfect weather, bumblebees buzzing, and birds singing! What a lovely time to be starting a garden! We planted out our raspberry bushes, made a netted construction for our peas to climb over, and even had the time to plant some potatoes, garlic, and shallots.

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We had a great team dynamic, with some pupils watering, whilst others were sowing or planting. Half way through our session we also received a kind delivery of compost from Phantassie Organic Farm. The pupils named our compost bag Colin and we are all looking forward to spreading Colin over our future crops! Our wonderful afternoon outside only made us more excited for next week, when Gardening Club will be going on its first ever full daytrip! We will be visiting Phantassie Organic Farm and we are all so excited to see the farm, the wilderness area, river walk and lambs!

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Pupils blogging: The importance of farmers

Since it’s been raining for days and our allotment is too muddy to sow peas and radishes, we stayed inside for our weekly Gardening Club meeting and watched GROW! – a wonderful documentary showing the lives of young organic farmers from the USA.

Here’s what the pupils thought about farming and its importance for society, some really great thoughts there!

Why do people become farmers?

  • To see plants grow  and where food comes from, to tend animals
  • To enjoy nature and be outside
  • Because they are interested in horticulture and like the idea of feeding people healthy food
  • Because they are tired of working for other people and want to promote their own values
  • Because farming supports local communities
  • Because they already have an agricultural background and have many fond memories of being on a farm

What are the challenges that young farmers face?

  • Some people don’t have the resources – land and money
  • Lack of support from family members – if not coming from an agricultural background, parents often don’t understand why they want to farm
  • Peer pressure – farming is considered an old person’s job
  • Lack of knowledge
  • Natural disasters such as floods destroying crops

Why do some farmers choose to grow food organically?

  • To inspire the young generation to preserve the land
  • Because they feel passionately about it and want to challenge themselves
  • To build relationships with local communities through growing good food
  • To have the freedom to choose that they grow
  • So that their plants don’t have chemicals in them
  • Because they feel a responsibility to leave the land they farm in a better shape than how they got it

What is the role of farmers in our society?

  • To build and connect communities through growing healthy food
  • To give experience to young people through internships, to teach the next generation of farmers
  • To increase the quality of life through producing good and healthy food for the public

Here’s the trailer for the movie, it was a great inspiration to start growing and hopefully next week the clouds will clear away for a while, so that we can work outside!