As a mother to a four year old, I’m always on the look out for activities which could both interest and educate my son outside of the school walls. The Farm School Initiative, which looks to educate youngsters on the benefits of fresh produce and how it is farmed, promised just this and as a family with a history in Jersey farming, there was all the more reason for us to head along to La Cornetterie Farm to experience their open day. As kid clubs go it possibly doesn't get more Jersey than this, after all one of our biggest celebrities is the potato!
Located on a working farm, The Farm School Initiative is the classroom setting for those who want to get their hands dirty, understand more about how different vegetables are grown and the place of farming in Jersey today. As well as visiting schools, the scheme runs a farming club for ages 6+ where they can get muddy with the pigs, make scarecrows, play old farm games and run amuck in the rolling hills and fairy circles on the farm. The open day is an opportunity for the “little sprouts” to showcase their products and talents learnt through the term which ranged from multi-coloured rainbow chard to rainbow-coloured piggy diagrams analysing different cuts of the pig.
Growing up on a farm Grace Davies has such fond memories of getting stuck in and learning farming from her parents in a fun and informative way. As the daughter of Billy Davies of the “Just William” store in the Central Market, you could say that Grace grew up with vegetables in her blood. Whilst not from a long line of farmers, her father’s desire to grow quality produce led to him purchase the farm 30 year ago and this passion spilled out to all members of the family. It’s little surprise that Grace felt so strongly about being involved with the farm in her adulthood and as a family they decided to open up the farm to spread their teachings onto to the next generation of Jersey’s potential farmers.
The Farm School Initiative not only looks to educate children on produce but to change consumer attitudes by having a greater awareness of where their fruit and veg comes from. She admits that local farming isn't always given the support it needs on the Island when up against large supermarket chains and it would be great to see people make more informed decisions about what they buy and from where. Grace’s love of farming and Jersey is evident as she cites her main goal is to keep the farming industry alive in a modern, relevant and fun way. “I want to keep the farming industry thriving - it would be great to turn out a few of next generation’s farmers!”
Speaking to other parents on the day they admitted the prospect of the club was a bit of a gamble. As adults the benefits of the scheme shine through, but how would it compete with computer games, television or even football clubs? Luckily it paid off and everyone I spoke to agreed their children loved their time on the farm and were itching to join again next term. Children like the sense of achievement of growing and caring for something themselves and bringing their produce home for dinner makes them incredibly proud. The next step is just to get the children to actually eat the vegetables!
Promoting local produce over supermarket brands and of course celebrating an industry that is intrinsically part of our culture and heritage in Jersey is no small feat. But Grace Davies takes it all in her welly-boot stride with the scheme set to thrive almost as well as their vegetable plots. It is refreshing in this day to be able to send my son to a club that will allow him to make informed and healthy choices and learn responsibility, farming history and just what makes Jersey so fabulous.
Find out more about The Farm School Initiative here.