Open day at 'college of the countryside'

Norfolk’s “College of the Countryside” is throwing open its doors on Sunday for its annual Open Day – once again staged in association with the EDP. Craig Smith previews this year’s attractions.

Enjoy a great family day out at Norfolk's Easton College this Sunday, June 5.

And as it's also World Environment Day, why not combine your fun day with learning more about the planet.

The day, held in association with the EDP, has become increasingly popular over the years and thousands of visitors are expected along to see what goes in at the college, found seven miles west of Norwich, just at the end of the A47 dual carriageway.

Staff and student demonstrations are carried out throughout the day in a variety of subjects including agriculture, countryside management, horticulture, animal care, equine, sports, public services, floristry and interior design. You can chat about the different courses on offer, take advantage of the (legendary!) plant sale and farmers' market or just enjoy all the activities laid on for all the family.

Entry is £4 per car with all proceeds going to local charities, which this year are Break and Norwich Rotary Clubs.

Proceedings get under way at 10.30am and the fun will last until 4pm.

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Easton is a Further Education College set in 250 hectares of idyllic farmland and countryside. The main focus of the college is on vocational courses such as First, National or Higher National Diplomas.

The aim of the open day is simple – to give visitors the chance to see what is offered, both in terms of courses (full-time, part-time or work-based learning) and facilities, which are some of the most up-to-date in the region.

But the open day isn't merely about the courses on offer, it's to get people to have a great day out trying different activities and looking to see whether they could build a career for themselves, or just take a course as a hobby.

Guided tractor and trailer rides will take you around the agricultural facilities including the refurbished dairy, new pig unit, sheep sheds and poultry unit. You will also see the latest edition to the college – five highland cattle. Demonstrations and displays will be going on throughout the day consisting of student work and practical tasks.

There will be conducted tours of the animal care centre as well as demonstrations and talks on various animal-related topics such as exotics, animal handling and vet nursing.

In the laboratory you will be able to take part in science experiments including fingerprinting and DNA testing.

The barn will play host to a variety of countryside-related quizzes, display and interactive sessions such as pond dipping, dissecting of owl pellets and microscope work. Organisations such as the Norfolk Wildlife Trust will be on hand to show how the work they do impacts on the local countryside.

There will be tours of the countryside dell, woodland gardens and deer park, as well as practical demonstrations on the pheasant rearing programme. A rifle range will be operating all day too.

Equestrian studies staff and students will be demonstrating of jumping, cross country and dressage throughout the day and student work will be display together with horse-related quizzes and competitions.

The plant sale has become synonymous with open day and many people can be seen arriving with trailers attached to take advantage of the large array of plants on offer. There will be demonstrations as well as a gardeners' question time.

The interior design department will be hosting an exhibition of students' work as well as offering a design clinic service for anyone needing inspiration.

Sport and leisure staff and students will be conducting demonstrations in the main sports hall throughout the day on different sports and also on fitness and aerobic ability.

Scared of computers? Business and IT staff will be on hand to show you how they can work for you. Find out about the internet and digital photography.

In the floristry and flower arranging department staff and students will be demonstrating different styles and techniques.

Other attractions on the day will include a vintage display – with steam engines, tractors and cars – farmers' market, 'Village Green' stalls, beekeeping demonstrations and displays… and much more.

And don't forget to check out information on the huge range of courses on offer.

The full-time curriculum has become more diverse in recent times and now includes agriculture, animal science and welfare, countryside management, equine studies, floristry, horticulture, public service and sport and leisure.

Part-time opportunities exist in these areas as well as associated ones such as machinery service engineering, garden design, interior design and dog grooming.

The college has an expanding higher education department, and its newly-opened Rural Support Centre provides specialist training packages in subjects such as pesticide application, first aid or forklift truck driving as well as advice and guidance to local industry about diversification projects.

So come and take a look!

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