In Tara Road, Papamoa, local school children and pre-schoolers are getting the opportunity to reconnect with nature and learn where their food comes from.
Teacher in the Paddock is the initiative of Kevin and Jane Powel, who have opened their working farm to school groups to enjoy ‘rural’ learning experiences. As well as getting up close to cows, horses, chickens, pigs, bees, guinea pigs and even silkworms, children take part in real hands-on farming experiences, such as gathering herbs from the garden and milking the two house cows, Janey and Amber, by hand.
“It‘s such a connection for these kids when they see the milk go into the bucket,” says Kevin. “Most of them have milk for breakfast out of a box and this is all they know. One child even wondered why the cow wasn’t blue.”
Once the cows are milked, Kevin, a trained primary teacher, shows the children how to make butter. They learn how to skim the cream from the milk and then use a macadamia nut to agitate the cream by shaking it in a jar.
“These connections are so simple, and children love to learn. Sometimes on the way home from school they ask mum to stop and buy a bottle of cream so they can demonstrate just how simple it is. We’re showing them the way things used to be done.”
The couple also run a school holiday education programme for children aged five and above and this summer welcomed 300 children through their farm.
“A big hit with the kids is the group of teenagers who love to come and help with the children, especially for the afternoon riding session. It’s such a healthy space for the children to be in an environment where there is no iPad, phone or TV, and where they get a chance to form new friendships in smaller groups.
The farm is also open for an after-school programme three days a week during the school term, with pick up from school by arrangement.
Luckily, adults also get an opportunity for some hands-on learning. Jane runs nourishing food workshops based on ‘Living Probiotics from your Pantry’ where participants learn simple ways to ‘help yourself to health’. Kevin runs courses on dairying with his popular workshop ‘Simply Soft Cheese’. Both of these workshops use superfoods and cultures that are easily maintained at home – so no more packaged cheese and yoghurt!
For more information about Teacher in the Paddock, please visit www.teacherinthepaddock.co.nz