I have been working with a city centre primary school on some extended farm based learning. I have just started visits with the new foundation children and spent the morning with them exploring vegetables, making parsnip crisps and discussing what a farm is before going off to visit The Barton in the afternoon.
Overwhelmingly the children felt that farms were places where animals were looked after in order to be safe such as "The farmer's wife is digging a hole for sheep to relax". Very few children make clear connections between animals and food or identifying vegetables as a farm feature. Of the 18 children 7 drew animals, farmers and simple features such as houses, fields and gates. The other 11 started to include more specific actions such as sheep dogs chasing sheep (not very much looking after them!) and cows eating hay. Only 2 children made reference to food one with a picture of pigs and a barbecue and the other with "This cow has udders. Milk comes out into the factory."
The farm visit including tasting salad from polytunnels, seeing eggs in the chicken coop and talking about milk and burgers as we watched the cattle in the barn. It will be interesting to see how the children's pictures and comments change as the year goes on. The group will have 5 visits over this time and will develop their ideas about farms as places where food comes from through a range of farm based activities and experiences.