Students get taste of life on the farm

Students at schools from across Norfolk exchanged the classroom for the bullock yard yesterday to learn about a range of enterprises on a fast-changing family farm.

Students at schools from across Norfolk exchanged the classroom for the bullock yard yesterday to learn about a range of enterprises on a fast-changing family farm.

It was the sixth annual event, organised by Holt & District Farmers' Club, to give more than 250 students from nine Norfolk schools a chance to tour Manor Farm, Calthorpe, near Aylsham.

Although a light rain was falling, much to the delight of the 50-strong squad of farmer volunteers, it did not spoil the event as briefings were switched inside and the visitors sat on straw bales.

It is the second year that the host, Jim Alston, who is the third generation of the family on the 600-acre farm, staged the sixth-form student day. Organiser Richard Brooks, of Holt Farmers, said 11 schools from Hunstanton to North Walsham and Swaffham to Wymondham had backed the event, taking a total of 248 students. "This has been carefully planned for months and we make sure that all the talks and briefings have information and details about a real working farm which will be useful for students and teachers," said Mr Brooks.

The team of volunteer farmers and growers talked about the typical range of enterprises on a Norfolk farm ranging from sugar beet, cereals, potatoes to a beef finishing operation. There was also the opportunity to enjoy a picnic lunch of local Norfolk produce - all sourced from nearby farms.

"Everyone has been very generous and the food has been supplied locally," said Mr Brooks. The suppliers included AG Meale's of Wayford Bridge, Stalham, with tomatoes, Ellie Betts, of Barningham, with cheeses, and Janet Mutimer's Farm to Fork, of Swannington, with ham. Butchers Graves of Briston supplied the beef.

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A party of students from Springwood High School, King's Lynn, again supported the event. Helen Carty, head of geography, welcomed the chance to bring the students to a real working farm. "I asked our group of students if they had ever been on a farm but no one ever has. This is a great opportunity because they can ask challenging questions and find out how food is produced," she added.

Teacher Simon Emerson, from Paston College at North Walsham, who took a group of 10 students, said the talks brought farming to life.

Richard Cranmer, of Notre Dame School, Norwich, who was attending his fifth annual school sixth-form study day, thanked the organisers.

For the second year, the organisers invited around 100 opinion formers including county, district and parish councillors, to tour the farm yesterday afternoon. "We're keen to have a constructive dialogue so visitors can understand more about food and how it is produced and also farming," said Mike Attew, of nearby Hanworth, who is the club's chairman.