Earlier this month I visited the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust Allerton project research farm and the trip was truly eye-opening. Not only have I learnt about the best farming practices for both crop-yield and wildlife, but I’ve also seen how the educational visits are run. I’m hugely keen to support this initiative as it’s something I want to replicate on my own farm in Kent.
I joined the children from Holy Cross primary school, Leicester, on a visit hosted by the GWCT’s Allerton Project and organised by national education charity – The Country Trust. Jim Egan, GWCT’s head of training and development and Gwyneth Shilleto from the Country Trust, did a fantastic job in making sure the children engaged with their surroundings. Seeing the children so absorbed in the activities; running around the fields identifying trees, hunting for sustainable materials in the visitor’s centre and listening to the sounds of the countryside was inspiring.
I’ve been very fortunate to have infinite access to the countryside, which is why I am so passionate about providing young people with the opportunity to experience our countryside and help them learn about the role our farmers play in its future. Presenting “Down on the Farm” on CBeebies, and principally as a father, I truly believe that there is no better environment for children to develop and learn than on a farm. It’s something I’d like my children to be around and to be involved in. For me it’s about utilising my blessings – everything that I’ve gained from the past and JLS – in this new farming environment and making sure that everyone can be a part of it.
Talking to Jill Attenborough of the Country Trust, I wholly resonated with her mission to “bring the working countryside alive for those children least able to access it.” The Country Trust is an incredible educational charity and I hope to be able to support the work they do in the future. I think it’s invaluable for children to experience our countryside. It allows children to learn with freedom and offers a wealth of experience that they can’t really get anywhere else.
I’m hugely grateful to the GWCT for allowing me to visit The Allerton Project and for giving me a deeper understanding of its farmland research and how the project supports educational visits. It has provided me, and the young children from Holy Cross primary school, with an experience that I’m sure we won’t ever forget.