Field to Fork, a project for schools, based at the Hirsel Estate, Coldstream and funded by Douglas and Angus Estates, is about connecting children to where their food comes from and taking them outdoors to explore, experience and enjoy the countryside.
Visits for school classes, nurseries, youth groups and adult groups with additional needs fall into 2 broad categories: ‘Food and Farming’ and ‘In the Wild’ which draw on the resources offered by the estate.
During a Food and Farming visit the children are taught the importance of farming and the environment in which it is produced. They explore, in a hands-on way, the crops grown at the Hirsel, learn about how they are grown and discover how they become the food we eat. They also cook a healthy recipe, the result of which they will either taste or take away with them at the end day to share at home. This recipe will use the products of crops such as grown on the estate as well as seasonal vegetables, challenging the children to think about where their food comes from, and so enabling them to make more informed choices about their health, their environment and their impact on producers. The activity encourages them to enjoy preparing their own food while developing important for life cooking skills and a passion for good food.
Alternatively an ‘In the Wild’ day takes them out into the grounds and woods of the estate to explore the outdoors and its biodiversity, developing awareness of the changes the seasons bring. Whether it’s hunting for mini-beasts, gathering natural material for a piece of wild art, noticing the characteristics of different trees or building a home for a tiny animal, the children’s experience of, familiarity with and understanding of the natural environment is fostered. Through this they often experience a positive impact on their emotional well-being and develop a desire to care for the wild.
With over a hundred visits each year, approximately 2500 children engage with the Field to Fork experience, some classes returning for a second visit in a different season or to cover a different aspect. Many schools have embedded visits within their programmes and return year on year as themes such as Healthy Eating, Food from Scotland, Plants, Food and Farming in World Wars and Mapping are continually being developed to support their curriculum.
Additionally, Field to Fork is involved with RHET running Estate Days at the Hirsel, Open Farm Sunday, the Glendale Countryside Day, the Border Union Schools Day and RHET Food and Farming Days.