Bringing the classroom to the farm
CategoryChild health and wellbeing
Proof of concept
An innovative farm classroom
This award was awarded to the S.H.E.D (Schools’ Health and Educational Den) an innovative farm classroom based at Frogmary Green Farm in South Petherton, Somerset. The project brings the classroom to the farm, giving children a ‘field to fork’ experience of the links between food production, cooking and healthy eating and how farming cares for the environment.
- The project weaves food education into school life in a farm setting combining fun and knowledge, as well as helping to tackle the ongoing challenge of reducing childhood obesity
- The classroom also offers an economic benefit to the farm with a funding stream to enable it to operate the facility, strengthen its business and so contribute to its continued viability
- The classroom also meets an environmental objective in providing a “shop window” for the farm in demonstrating and showcasing what it does in food production, renewable energy and the natural environment.
Making a difference
How/why did the project benefit the public?
While the classroom is based on a farm, the project is very much a facility for the community. As well as providing an innovative hands-on, educational space for children it also offers a resource for local community groups and societies. The farm places great emphasis on children’s education and has forged close links with local primary and infant schools. The project has become a regular destination for local schools meaning its messages and value spreads throughout the community.
What were local planners looking to achieve on the project?
- To enable children and young people to connect the food they eat (school meals and at home) with a good understanding of growing, farming and food production.
- To offer schools and targeted groups the opportunity to experience growing for cooking activities within a farm setting.
- To develop cooking in the curriculum and health education training days for teachers.
- To offer a model of good practice for all ages across the wider community that can impact on: healthy weight, mental health, increased physical activity and increased access to the outdoors.
How were local planners essential to the project's success?
The planning process entailed two formal planning applications and extensive negotiations with the Council and highway officers.
Planners steered the scheme through sometimes protracted negotiations and their knowledge, and leadership provided the necessary expertise and confidence when various issues had to be overcome.
The extensive role played by planners undoubtedly helped towards the success of the project and the ability for Frogmary Green Farm to develop the classroom in time for an early Easter opening and for the summer term; providing a peak opportunity to attract the target audience of children and families.