For many years now Pitgaveny has hosted school’s visits for local children in Moray.
The biggest of these is an annual visit from Elgin Academy when around 200 new 2nd year pupils come to the farm for the day. They invite various speakers to come and talk about the work they do on the farm in 20 or 40 minute blocks. The aim is to show the reality of what is involved in a working farm.
In 2018 the event took place in early June and among those speaking were three agronomists who work with the estate, talking about crops, soil, and food production. Their vet discussed the work he does with livestock at Pitgaveny. Addy is an entomologist and local beekeeper and puts her bees on crops at the farm. She discussed their lifecycle and significance in farming.
A nearby organic poultry farmer discussed egg production, ethics and organics, and their own guys on the farm talked about sheep, cattle and, along with Ravenhill, machinery. Scottish Woodlands also covered forestry management and tree planting.
Another notable activity on the day was a planning workshop held by Savills. For several years Pitgaveny has been working with Savills on a masterplan for 1500 houses for a new neighbourhood in northern Elgin. The estate have run several workshops looking at different stages in this process - last year their landscape architects did a creative session looking at green space. This time their planning team asked the pupils to look at the costs involved in housebuilding with great active participation from the 12 and 13 year olds. They rely on a number of volunteer stewards to help look after the school groups and keep to time, and this year these included retired teachers, local farmers, a forester and various members of the Pitgaveny team. All the stewards ask questions and add to the discussion too, to encourage the pupils to engage with those who are speaking.
The links with the Elgin Academy have been excellent and the Home Economics, Geography and Biology departments are all actively involved in planning the day, and feed in the information they are looking for from a curriculum point of view. Overall the estate feels that the schools day is a hugely positive experience for all involved. Blame cannot be placed on school aged children (nor their parents, nor their teachers) for a lack of understanding about farming if farmers and estates don't invite them to farms and open up a discussion.
The schools day is a great event which takes on an even bigger feel when the estate holds it the day after their Family Open Day which is held in May every other year. At the Open Day the estate welcomes around 3000 visitors on to the farm to raise funds for charity and to focus on food and farming. It's a day of activities, demonstrations, a farmers' market with local producers, local catering and a lot of chat!