Covid-19 update 5th January 2021
Here we are entering another national lockdown. This must be frustraiting for many of you, as is to us, as we were all looking forward to welcoming you back on site this half term. This is a message to reassure everyone that all spaces booked will be honoured and automatically carried forward to (Waking the Land) groups after the February half term. We will send you an update nearer the time. Meanwhile, we will do everything we can to keep you engaged and entertained during the lockdown. Please fill in a short form here to help us find best ways as to how we could best support you and your children during this lockdown.
What have we done to reassure you during Covid-19?
1. We manage capacity
As always, we limit our capacity to 10 bookable spaces maximum per group (one or two children maximum can book accompanied by one adult only) which is a maximum of 20 adults and children at one time.
2. We run courses for the same group of people every week
Each course will have the same group at the same allotted time each week for the whole 6-week half term. Spaces are available for booking, one space per child, adults don’t need to book.
3. We facilitate distancing by being outdoors in a large natural site and also by:
- Using our newly built and floored open shelter with spaced out benches and work surfaces with wipeable tops to allow enough space for each family.
- Providing a disinfectant hand gel on-site, and using two spaced out handwash sinks in addition to a double washing up sink.
- Being mindful while planning for our sessions to spread participants out at work areas (weeding in separate beds, cooking and food preparation on different work surfaces, and harvesting from different plants, or alternating the tasks, for example).
What do we expect of you?
- Book your course well in advance (a maximum of two children and one adult per family).
- Carefully read our handbook, and Covid-19 policy, and return booking forms by email before the start of the course, both will be sent out in a welcome email upon booking.
- Stay at home if you or anyone in your household displays symptoms of Covid-19.
- Respect Social distancing by following the guidelines in our handbook and the group leaders’ instructions.
- Bring your own gloves, bowls, water bottles/ flasks, and cutlery.
Have you got any questions for us?
Please don’t hesitate to either
- Or text us on: Bronwen: 07816398667 Fatma:07517153293
- Or message us on our Shillingford Organics Farm School FB. Page here:
Farm School Story and mission
Farm School concept was conceived on a frosty morning in the purple sprouting broccoli field in Shillingford Organics in December 2015. In April 2016, 17 families ( adults and children) from the local community started coming to Shillingford Organics Farm School to learn about food and where it comes from. As well as running seasonal community events, Farm School runs educational weekly sessions throughout the seasons either for a morning or after school engaging children, and adults, in farming hands on activities ranging from composting, sowing, to harvesting, cooking and sharing their own crops. Our mission is to grow an environmentally responsible generation; promoting a healthier and more sustainable food culture that is both good for us people and our planet. Nearly five years on we’ve grown to 45 families coming weekly to Farm School weekly educational groups in December 2020. Such growth invited and called for three new group leaders to join our team, please scroll down to Farm School Leaders to find out about us.
We are very lucky to be in the heart of the organically run Shillingford Organics Farm, a great model to learn from, a haven for wildlife and a variety of habitats endowed with beautiful red fertile hilly fields.
Farm School is a South-facing child-run mini-farm within a safe fenced environment with a number of growing beds, a tent surrounded by plum trees (the hug) a conservatory and;
- An open outdoor community shelter where we do our food preparations, and herbal/ medicinal concoctions.
- A herb garden to explore and learn about different native herbs and their medicinal properties.
- An orchard with many varieties of apples, pears, and plums
- A woodland of native trees lined with a freshwater stream
- Two polytunnels one used for growing, and the other as a shelter and for sowing and drying herbs and seed saving.
Most of our site maintenance and community events are managed and run thanks to volunteers and Farm School directors’ generous time commitments, passion, and skills.
How we achieve our mission
1. Farm School Educational Groups
Farm School runs weekly afterschool clubs for primary age children (April- November), pre-school groups in the morning, and home-schooling days across the seasons. Through our educational groups, we aim to help children develop a sense of curiosity and gain the skills they need by running their own mini farm to establish a life-long relationship with our land, based both on harmony and gratitude.
During these groups, children are engaged in fun, hands-on, farming activities. These vary from soil preparation, composting, sowing, to caring for and tending on plants, harvesting, cooking, and sharing their own crops. At Farm School, we believe in the interconnectedness of everything in nature, where learning goes beyond food to a much bigger ecosystem made up of micro-organisms, and wildlife.
To ensure inclusivity, our pricing policy is to go for the lowest rates in comparison with other similar land-based educational activities with similar number ratios, each group runs with a maximum of 8 children. Our current rate is £5.50hr
2. Farm School community events
Farm School runs a number of annual community events where people adults and children are invited to be a part of the farm life for a day, activities these days range from sowing, planting, harvesting, and cooking healthy, and sustainable food. Booking is essential for our community events for a small charge to help us cover costs. Healthy, plant-based organic lunch is always available on the day, also for a minimum charge of £3/person to cover ingredients costs (a seasonal soup, served with freshly picked salad, and local bread). We use fresh produce from the farm, Emma’s Bread, and other ethically sourced ingredients. On our events we work closely with environmental organisations and local businesses to promote ethical and responsible living for all, please get in touch if you would like to join us in any of our events.
3. School trips
We have hosted a number of successful school trips where children learn about the seasons, food, wildlife, and nature. We offer a variety of programs and can tailor activities according to the groups’ curricular needs. Please get in touch for details.
Shillingford Organics Farm School CIC directors:
Fatma Sabet: Farm School director & creator
Martyn Bragg: Owner of Shillingford Organics and Farm School director
Meet our Farm School Team
From Devon where great grandfather was a market gardener all his life. Originally I worked in property development in central London before becoming a teacher 30 years ago; after 18 years teaching computing in colleges and universities, I retrained for primary teaching. I've worked in London, Wigan, Bolton, Dorset, Somerset and Wolverhampton and taught in primary and middle schools.I had a passion for growing things from a very early child and have always gardened, taking qualifications garden design, horticulture and permaculture from Cannington college, Somerset and Kingston Maurward College, Dorset. I've been a consultant examiner for City and Guilds for their horticulture qualifications in prisons. I've started many learning gardens in schools and have two allotments of my own. I have taught forest school and growing at my present school, assisting the school to achieve the RHS's Level 5 Outstanding Certificate in It's Your Neighbourhood awards and also the Prince of Wales award for a pollinator garden in the school. I received a Devon Recycling Thank You Award in 2018 for the school's efforts in recycling. I am still a full time primary school teacher.In my spare time, I like to keep busy quilting, bell ringing and researching family history and am about to embark on a story writing for children course.
Bronwen is a teacher brimming with ideas and passion. She is a qualified secondary school Art, Photography anf Textiles teacher and has three young girls of her own. She has a wealth of experience in Growing, Art, Cooking, music, story-telling and has led many community projects. She is passionate about creating a rich and fertile learning environment that is limitless, allowing children to learn in their own unique way. Imagination and sense of wonder is something she believes to be very precious and should be nurtured in all areas of learning.
When she is not chasing her three girls around the park she loves to paint and draw. Particularly, artwork for children about magic and nature. Foraging is a new passion. Discovering and cooking-up new wild flavours that her children like is exciting. Cycling along the Exe river with all her girls in tow is a favourite family activity. To keep fit Bronwen does an aerobic dance to Drum and Bass.
I started Farm School in the spring, 2016 where I use food as a context for children to grow first-hand knowledge of plants and the environment. As well as leading Farm School groups and community events for adults and children, I worked part-time simultaneously with Shillingford Organics growers for 1.5 years, this has enabled me to gain the horticultural knowledge necessary to develop Farm School educational program, which continues to evolve as Farm School groups grow older and bigger. I am also halfway through a Biodynamic training course at Ruskin Mill Trust which enables me to gain a different perspective on food growing and education. As well as running Farm School groups with Farm School leaders, I am currently doing a Ph.D. that focuses on the role of school meals and food education in developing healthy and sustainable school food culture. My dream is to grow our learning community of young children and adults for a healthier and more sustainable future of food, where it is no more a commodity, but sustenance for us people, and our planet.
I originally trained as a primary school teacher and worked for a short time in schools in Hackney and Tower Hamlets in London. Most of my work since has been focused on outdoor food and farming education which I love. I was with the Soil Association Education team for several years on projects connecting children to where their food comes from - visiting organic farms for day and residential visits, setting up school gardens, and cooking activities. In London, I ran a weekly organic vegetable stall for a farm in Norfolk and managed an organic farmers' market in East London for several years. I lived in Kenya until I was 10, and have worked in Tanzania (Zanzibar) with VSO (teacher training) and more recently on a permaculture project on Lake Victoria. I am currently completing training to be a Forest School leader and am at my happiest sitting by a campfire, cooking, eating, chatting, and singing! My latest passions are for birds (who I have fallen in love with since lockdown) and nature-inspired art. I fall asleep (in a yurt) listening to the sound of owls hooting and have a tame robin who comes inside every day for breakfast! I have been in East Devon for almost 2 years because I have always wanted to live by the sea. I can be found regularly swimming in the sea at Budleigh or Sidmouth brrrr! I am delighted to have joined the wonderful team at Farm School.
I first discovered the magic of Shillingford farm about a year ago, helping out on some big harvest days. When lockdown began in March, it became my main job and I felt very fortunate to be able to cycle up to the farm, be outside in the beautiful landscape, and be working with wonderful people. I now work in the Packhouse, packing veg boxes which I then deliver to Exmouth. And I am one of the team that runs the Shillingford stall at Exeter Farmers Market. Previously, I was a primary school teacher in London for 7 years. Following this I did some childcare work. Realising that I love working with children, but don’t love the constraints of a more formal learning environment, I then trained as a Forest School leader. Now, the idea of combining growing, being at one with nature, and being part of a learning community feels exciting and hopeful. I am very much still growing my own knowledge about the wonders of plants, and I look forward to learning together with you all.
Back in 2018 I first brought my daughter (now four years old) to Farm School - and fell in love with the site and the sessions, which quickly became the highlight of our week. Since then I’ve been involved in helping out with the running of farm school community days, and of course through attending sessions with my daughter. My background is in education and the arts, and I have facilitated creative extra-curricular workshops for children and young people in Malaysia, Guatemala, and Spain - as well as here in the UK. I’ve worked for big organisations like Tate Modern, to tiny NGO’s supporting refugee communities, and am passionate about inclusivity for all. A huge love of exploring and being in the outdoors myself - and wishing the same for my daughter, led me to begin forest school training in 2019. We moved to Dartmoor at the beginning of this year, aiming to be closer to wild and green spaces, and have since taken on a stunningly placed allotment which is slowly taking shape with the help of little hands. My perfect day would combine sea swimming, rock climbing, cooking up some delicious organic food over a campfire, and sharing great conversations about permaculture, self-sufficiency, and alternative education.