At Neal’s Yard Dairy, the weekly visits we make to the farms that supply us underpins all that we do. That connection with where our produce comes from is fundamental; who makes it, how they make it, how it tastes. Enabling local children to experience the same makes sense. This September, a group of children from Redriff Primary School, in our neighbouring Rotherhithe, headed to Abbey Home Farm for a week.
We started working with Redriff Primary School in 2018 when we, like many other businesses, started charging customers for plastic bags. The aim was to use the money from plastic bag sales (and the savings made through purchasing thousands fewer bags) to sponsor a group of local children on a residential farm visit. Ultimately, our goal is to have zero plastic bags in our shops and lots of kids down at the farm; harvesting, cooking and den-building.
This year's group had a busy time at the farm doing activities such as:
- Fruit and vegetable gardening (picking carrots, apples, leeks, beetroots, peppers, courgettes, sweetcorn and edible flowers)
- Preparing meals together using the produce they picked and encouraging each other to try new foods.
- Feeding the pigs and calves
- Collecting and packing eggs
- Holding chicks
- Visiting (and even kissing) the horses
- Visiting the farm museum
- Going on a night walk and watching a light display in the forest at night
- Firelighting, sitting around the bonfire and stargazing on the final night. The children even spotted Jupiter and Saturn
- Playing games in the forest
- Making a chocolate birthday cake for one of the children.
The highlight of the trip was different for different children but here are some of their comments.
"I wish I could live on the farm, everything tastes better!"
"My favourite part was being able to play in the woods and climb the trees"
"I didn't know fruit and vegetable grew like this; I want to try this on my balcony at home!"