As the schools planned for their end of year activities, Shallowford provided the magic that would carry them through the summer and beyond. To different age groups, Shallowford provides different things. However, the magic tends to fall into one of two categories: a door opening to a new world never before explored. Once that tiny crack of adventure is opened, the embers of curiosity and joy are ever open and will last the lifetime of that child into adulthood and beyond. To older children, Shallowford acts as a reset button. Fear, anxiety, self-absorption, aggression, chaos and anger dissolves into tender care and concern at the sight of a tiny chick, a dog who just loves to be hugged or a piglet that is nestling its little snout to its mother’s teat.
In June two very different groups came to join us. The first had requested STEM training – which for the uninitiated is Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths! Starting on the evening they arrived, Kate, our bookkeeper had developed some heady sums around rates of pig feed, growth, butcher’s costs and possible profit margins. Throughout the week these keen academic students marched across fields to understand how Gail and Miles’s leat powers the entire farm with electricity, helped turn the freshly sheared sheep, weighed all the pigs, discussing the attributes of various methods for calculating averages and remained awe struck by the silent and happy cows at the robotic dairy farm!
Our second group spanned two weeks, as the entire class from Plymouth mini-bused through the wiggly lanes to see and understand moorland agricultural life.
The Primary School of lively and excited children, were keen to muck out pigs but also to learn why trees had different shaped leaves, what was the difference between hay and silage and just to listen. Not to silence, but the wild chatter of nature that as humans we so readily block out, but once heard, calms the chaos of traumatised lives.