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Case Studies > Garrocher Tree Farm Creetown

Dumfries and Galloway


Case Study Garrocher Tree Farm Creetown Dumfries and Galloway www.helpingithappen.co.uk
Case Study Garrocher Tree Farm Creetown Primary school pupils usually spend the run-up to the festive season making presents and learning about the Nativity story – instead of this, over 200 children visited Garrocher Christmas Tree Farm, a tree farm that employs nine full time staff and is a member of the British Christmas Tree Growers Association. A fantastic example of community engagement, Mike Craig, the owner of the farm, worked closely with the charity Countryside Learning Scotland (CLS) to turn his farm into an outdoor classroom for a week.

The plantation manager, Martin MacKenzie, delivered a wealth of expertise to the school children participating in the programme; including taking the groups on a walking tour, visiting the machinery shed, watching a cutting and netting demonstration, gaining an insight into the layout of the farm and discussing the height and age of the trees close-up. Back undercover in the barn, Martin explained how the trees were managed and cared for; he showed the children how to recognise some of the main species of Fir, Pine and Spruce and touched on the biology of trees and the environmental benefits of growing them.

Catherine from CLS backed up the knowledge provided by Martin by devising a range of activities that linked pupils learning with Scotland’s school curriculum. The children became tree detectives, they were challenged to complete a tree jigsaw and they were involved in an inter-schools competition to decorate a tree using objects found on the farm.

The interest from teaching staff in this initiative was enormous. A total of 11 schools booked within two days and the event proved to be very popular indeed. Its success was due to a number of reasons: firstly, the enthusiasm from Michael and Kirsty Craig to host the event and work through all the logistics with CLS; secondly the willingness of the farm workers to step aside from their usual role for a couple of hours a day and speak with young children. Finally, the subject matter itself. As Catherine explained: ‘Children experience a range of school visits during their time at Primary school, yet not one had visited a Christmas tree farm and it gave the children and their teachers a new perspective on countryside learning and an insight into local employment opportunities’.

The week proved to be very successful and it is hoped that members of the British Christmas Tree Growers Association (BCTGA) throughout the country will open their doors in the future too.
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