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Case Studies > A Day in the Country

Gilston Mains

Case Study A Day in the Country Gilston Mains
Case Study A Day in the Country The Countryside Day is held at Gilston Mains, Leven (by kind permission of 4 Front Farming & Edward Baxter) every June with over 300 Primary 6 pupils from schools in the Levenmouth area. The event takes the form of 12 sessions - Machinery, Sheep Shearing, Cereals, Vegetables, Potatoes, Forestry with a demonstration, Pond Dipping, Livestock, Butchery, Game keeping and Wildlife Crime.

The pupils are split into twelve groups and follow a route (about 1 mile) and have a stop at each session. The sessions are delivered by local volunteer farmers and outside agencies. Each group has a RHET volunteer with them all day. In total, there are in the region of 45 volunteers involved with this event.

For some of the young people it is the first time that they have experienced a day in the countryside - even something as simple as having their lunch outdoors is a new experience. The pupils are prepared for this with a classroom speaker going into the schools to give them an insight into what they will be doing and seeing on the day and discussing the Health & Safety involved with this type of event.

The main purpose of this event is to get pupils out into the countryside, in many cases for the first time, to experience the use of their senses and learn about farming, where their food comes from and what goes on in the countryside. Many of the pupils who attend are from an area of deprivation and would not benefit from this experience if we did not pay for the buses to get them out. We address Health & safety on the farm by preparing a risk assessment which is sent to the schools beforehand and we provide the schools with an information booklet to prepare them for the day. Not only are we educating the children about farming and the countryside we are also dealing with health and safety issues on farms.

This event is in its 12th year with Gilston Estate hosting almost 4,000 pupils since the project began, some of the pupils who have attended in the past are now 22 years old and teachers themselves! Edward Baxter from Gilston Estate said: "What goes on in the countryside is a mystery to most people. We are here but are seldom noticed. The Countryside day at Gilston is a wonderful opportunity for the Estate to show-case to children and their teachers the many things that are going on at Gilston both growing the food we eat and providing a refuge for the wild life we enjoy. They are unlikely to have the first hand knowledge of food and farming which we all take for granted and sharing that knowledge is a pleasure as well as a responsibility."

Matt Waldie of 4 Front Farming and a RHET volunteer said ““It is important to share our knowledge and passion for the countryside with these young people. Seeing the delight on their faces when they realise and understand what we do is extremely satisfying” Quotes from some of the pupils attending: “It was the best farm trip ever ….. AMAZING” Alisha P6 “This was the best day ever” Jordan P6 “It is GREAT- you should go and see for yourself!” Sophie P6 Caroline Kilbane, Teacher, Kennoway Primary said “On behalf of Zara and I…and our children, we wanted to say a huge thanks for today! It was just perfect from start to finish…everything ran like clockwork and there was so much information to be absorbed…not just green grass!” Carole Brunton, RHET Fife Project Co-ordinator said: "For 12 years, Edward Baxter and his staff have allowed RHET Fife to take over the estate for the day, but we also appreciate and realise the value of the work that goes on in the days/weeks beforehand preparing for the day, this is not only extremely generous but it is invaluable, and often goes unrecognised” Throughout the year last academic year RHET Fife has arranged 108 farm visits with just over 2,500 pupils and 114 classroom talks with 2,600 pupils with almost 500 adults, both teachers and parent helpers on farm visits and in classrooms.

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