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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...


November 2017

November 2017

1 Nov 2017

This autumn there has been such abundance of fruit; acorns, blackberries, conkers, holly berries, apples and pears to break the trees. For many vegetable growers their gardens have been the best ever. Pete Harrod from the market garden in Mariners Lane has always lent us his apple press and crusher.  Overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of fruit and sight of so many laden trees we bought the same solid cast iron German press and crusher. We didn’t want to lose out on the particularly tasty apples at the bottom of the drive up to Rushall Manor so Lindsay and I went picking.  Lindsay preferred to be dangerously balanced on the top of a step ladder with a picking bag around her neck.  I was equipped with the latest gift from my daughters, a telescopic pole with a sort of small basketball net to catch the apples. It meant I could pick from the top of the tree those really red big ones though my long history of wearing glasses did appear to be a handicap.  Attracted by this spectacle someone walking past with a dog seemed genuinely surprised to see that apples grew on trees.

Not so for the 15 children who arrived with their headteacher Carolyn Purchase from Brimpton Primary School. Their minibus shuddered to a halt with warning lights flashing.  Not surprising when the heavy boxes and buckets of apples emerged along with the children. The task for the day “to learn about the process of juice making by doing it” (though in no way in competition with Tutts Clump Cider).  First lunch though, and strange to see an imported Granny Smiths apple being sort of eaten, but there you go.  Then we split into four teams.  The first group washed the fruit, the next cut them into chunks, the third pulping with a big crusher.   Then the exciting part as the press is wound down and the pure amber liquid gushes out to be caught in a bowl.  Finally there is the sieving, the bottling and the pasteurisation by heating for 25 minutes, before sealing with a lid using a clever piece of kit.

We started the process by drinking the first fruits of our labours and all agreed that it was good.  At the end of two hours, everyone had done each part of the process to make 24 bottles of Brimpton Apple Juice, so we toasted our success and it tasted even sweeter. A trailer ride around the farm completed an afternoon of learning of a different kind …..possibly one to be remembered.

The John Simonds Trust is looking for a new administrator to co-ordinate our work with schools and other organisations. If you are interested you will find the advert on our website.