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"We all learnt a great deal about Farming - it helped the children to understand the idea of Farming more. A real hands on experience!"

By Reading School Year 4 teacher



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24 May 2022

    Bluebells at Rushall Farm I first met...


January 2021

January 2021

12 Jan 2021

It is an understatement that right now in early January it is cold.  It was a few years ago that Martin, who was profoundly deaf and at Brookfields School, came to help me first thing on Saturday mornings.  He was part of a group who come regularly on Tuesday to the farm, but was not coping all that well.  He worked with me, bedding up the cattle and sheep, feeding and checking hungry stock, although would have much preferred to be still in bed. His mother Laura was the driving force behind my somewhat reluctant assistant.  When he arrived I always asked him how he was.  His reply, always brief, slow and drawn out, heavily accentuated “TIRED”, only to be extended on one wintery morning to “TIRED AND COLD”. His days of forced labour didn’t last too long and he is now in Scotland with his mother training to be a mechanic, having worked for the Newbury Furniture project for a number of years as a driver.

Julian, who I work with, and I have just completed a 3-day chainsaw refresher course. Most of our time was practical, working on competence and confidence to safely fell sizeable trees.  We were cutting mainly ash and oak in a copse planted 30 years ago. The young trees were a prize for winning the Berkshire Conservation Award – £1500 I believe (to be spent on further conservation sadly, rather than a holiday or even a weekend in Bognor!).  The first job was to select the trees to grow on.  Those which were small, badly shaped, or overshadowed by a strong oak or ash had to go.  This means that the best will go on to reach their full potential while the rest goes for firewood, habitat piles or materials for building dens in the woods.

In normal years the main work of the Trust is hosting around 12,000 children on school visits and camps but at the moment we are developing work with a relatively small but significant group of children who, like the poorer trees in the copse, are not thriving in their school situation. Rather than dismiss them as interfering with other children’s progress, (which they probably are), we are looking to encourage the fact that they are children of value and have a contribution to make to society with their lives. Over a twelve week course of one day a week we want them to grow with gifts and personalities into thriving individuals. Surely that is worth doing?

John Bishop