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Case Studies > Learning Where Food Comes From

Hopetoun Estate Farms & RHET

Case Study Learning Where Food Comes From Hopetoun Estate Farms & RHET
Case Study Learning Where Food Comes From Primary 3 pupils from Ratho Primary School experienced a double farm visit thanks to staff at Hopetoun Estate. This is a real farm to fork visit as produce from Hopetoun Estate is then sold at their own Farm Shop just a couple of miles along the road.

First stop was Niddry Farm where the children met Aberdeen Angus beef cattle and learned how they are fed, housed and looked after before ending their journey as steaks, roasts or homemade steak pie. They then moved on to see the older free range chickens that are housed at Niddry. These stay on farm until they are between 9-11 weeks old, which is much longer than the average supermarket chicken. The children also saw ancient black Hebridean Sheep. Although not a commercial breed, these are kept for their heritage as Hebridean sheep have grazed at Hopetoun Estate for 300 years.

The pupils then jumped back on their bus and, after a short 10 minute journey, arrived at Trinlaymire Farm. Here they saw tiny chicks that will grow to be larger free range chickens, learned why they are kept in round pens and the importance of keeping them warm and safe from predators. All free range poultry at Hopetoun is processed on farm so a visit to the processing room (not in use during the visit) where chickens are killed, plucked and packed was a reality check.  The pupils realised what actually happens to enable them to eat roast chicken, chicken nuggets and all the other chicken products they enjoy.

The highlight of the visit was undoubtedly the lambing shed where the children were able to get up close to ewes and their lambs. Mary Eagers explained all the different aspects of lambing - dealing with triplets, why they are marked with different colours, establishing the bond between ewe and lamb - and pupils were able to hold one of the lambs at the end of the visit.

The class produced an informative display about their farm visit at Ratho Primary Farmers Market the following week. Supported by the Lothian branch of the Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET Lothian) the market is a whole school project that aims to help children learn where their food comes from, how it is produced and to appreciate the wide range of local food products available. In the weeks leading up to the market, P3 pupils visited two farms on the Hopetoun Estate and P7 pupils whipped up some tasty leek and potato soup with RHET Lothian Coordinator Karen Valentine.

On market day, pupils ran stalls offering fresh vegetables from Craigie's Farm and East Coast Organics, Craigie's jams, flour from Mungoswells, a community cafe featuring lots of delicious home baking and "make your own" soup packs. In addition, parents and visitors could try the pupils own bread made with Mungoswells flour spread with homemade butter. Activities on offer included "milking" Charlotte, the RHET Lothian fibreglass cow, grinding wheat the old-fashioned way on a quern stone and a Food Miles game promoting eating local, seasonal produce.
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