Lancing leads the way!
School farms – and teaching
children the concept of ‘from farm to fork,’ – are now in vogue, but the Farm
Project at Lancing College has been ploughing this furrow since 1983, and with
A number of Lancing’s former ‘young farmer’ pupils returned
to the Farm recently for a 30th anniversary reunion. They included
Adrian Bell, Chairman of the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists, who
runs a food and farming PR company and keeps a flock of pedigree Wiltshire Horn
sheep; Barnabas Kay, NE Regional Director of the NFU; David Martin,
vet and consultant expert witness in animal cruelty legal cases; and Ashley
Wells, a vet specialising in small animals; as well as Chris
Arrell, Research Fellow in Laser Physics; John Burton, a busy A and E
doctor; and other former Lancing students who were also inspired by their
school farm experience.
The occasion was an opportunity to reminisce and to see how
things have developed since the farm’s small beginnings, as an off-shoot of the
Science Department, when there were just two Saddleback pigs, a small flock of
sheep and a few hens.
The farm at Lancing College is now a 70 acre enterprise with
education and conservation at its heart. Today, under the expert
guidance of Jon Hutcheon, the farm is breeding rare breed pigs and poultry and
a variety of sheep, including a newly formed Southdown flock. The meat is
retailed and supplied to the school kitchens. The College works in
conjunction with the South Downs National Park Authority to manage the
woodland, ditches, ponds and river adjacent to the farm, replant hedges and
monitor the wildlife. Grey partridge have been released and are now
breeding on the stubbles and arable land, which is being managed under High
Level Stewardship Schemes. There are two beekeepers active on the estate and pollination
projects have recently been introduced. Pupils are taught about wild life and
their habitats, as well as the importance of recycling. They also learn about
crop rotation, as peas, wheat and oats are grown on the wider estate.
Pupils have always played a very active part in the running
of the Farm, but this is not just an extra-curricular option. It provides an
opportunity to take subjects such as Biology, Geography and Business Studies
out of the classroom. Educational visits for local state and independent
schools are also organised and the farm takes part annually in ‘Open Farm
Sunday’, the national initiative for local communities.
Jon Hutcheon, Farm Manager of Lancing College Farm,
has been involved in farming activities for most of his life. He has farmed
sheep, pigs and poultry and also has wide experience of arable and cattle
management. From the age of 15, Jon has worked as a game keeper, which has
included partridge, pheasant and duck management. He is also experienced in
coppice and woodland management and regeneration, hedge planting and laying,
habitat work and charcoal burning. Jon has written four books on rural pursuits
including bush-craft and country crafts.
College has a reputation for academic excellence and strong performance in
value-added terms. Pupils enjoy a wide range of experiences beyond the national
curriculum and are encouraged to embrace new interests in the spirit of self
discovery. The Farm Project is just one example. Cultural, sporting, and
practical activities all feature in the weekly timetable. Every pupil chooses a
personal Academic Tutor and the small class sizes give teachers the opportunity
to nurture individual talents.
will be a programme of events at Lancing College Farm during the coming year.