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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...


ewe with triplets outside

21 Mar 2019




We have just finished clearing out Oaklands Yard at Rushall Manor.  For 20 years it was the home of Pang Valley Woodland Products.  The site has delighted the many children on a visit to the farm.  They saw huge stacks of logs, the bellowing smoke from the large charcoal kilns and piles of great slabs of seasoning timber.  Inside the workshop was a world filled with beautifully made workbenches, a timber floor of thousands of pieces of oak left over from the construction of the Globe, a shave horse, a massive timber clamp, a foot treadle for turning bowls and a bicycle driven wet stone for sharpening tools. Sparing no luxury, there was a Rayburn for boiling up the remains of charcoal-cooked hog roasts, and a sink supplied with water harvested from the roof.

So, no more pegs for timber framed buildings, tile pegs, charcoal, laths for lath and plaster, seats and benches, or long chats about life, the weather and cricket.

Over the last 3 days 240 girls from the Holt School in Wokingham have been here on a geography visit.  Part of the day includes a session on diversification when they look at the woodlands and plan improvements for hedgerows, the pond, and the farm environment for wildlife. They are also expected to ponder opportunities for other land use like camping, horse paddocks and biogas generation, and how to preserve old farm buildings. The sites looked at included Oaklands, with the questions, ‘What is the building being used for, how does it contribute to the rural community and does it generate any income?’ Today Oaklands offers nothing apart from the newts which live in the adjacent pond.

So, we have now started work with a very special project in mind. Every Tuesday a group of 20 plus young people from Brookfield and Castle Schools come for a day to visit the farm.  They love the opportunity to be out of school working with Steve Waters and the sheep and cattle, and Oaklands will be their new base.  Part of the inspiration for this project was the tragic death of Stuart Featherstone who went to Brookfield.  Stuart was born in 1970.  As well as working in Tesco’s in Newbury he went around being himself, stubborn and independent at times but always open and friendly. Strong and determined he touched the lives of many people who would say it was good to have known him.  Well over 200 people came to his funeral.  We are quite sure that the new Oaklands will help to enable those whom others would define as weak, vulnerable and in need of protection to be like Stuart and live life to the full, and in doing so enrich the lives of others.

John Bishop