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Farms for City Children

Farms for City Children exists to ensure an equity of access to the countryside so that all children can experience the health and development benefits of nature and the environment, no matter where they are from or what their background, helping them to grow ambition and dream bigger and brighter futures.

farmsforcitychildren.org Fundraise for us

01392 276678

Registered charity no. 325120

Member since June 2022

About us

We work with children aged 8 to 11 from urban environments contending with multiple levels of disadvantage - 99% join us from some of the most densely populated urban areas of the country and 75% are in areas of high deprivation. Typically, around 62% of beneficiaries are entitled to free school meals and are in receipt of pupil premium funding. A high proportion of our children come from minority ethnic backgrounds with varied language needs, a great many have complex special educational needs and emotional and behavioural difficulties.

We know that children do better at school, have better relationships and better mental health when they spend time outdoors, for play and for learning. Yet children from minority ethnic groups, with neurodivergent issues, or who are living in poverty, rarely, if ever, spend time in green spaces. We exist to change this.

We were founded in 1976 by children’s author Sir Michael Morpurgo and his wife Clare, who bought our first farm in Devon to welcome city children for residential stays. Since then, we have extended to two further farms – in Pembrokeshire and Gloucestershire and have welcomed over 100,000 children to date.

Children participate in the seasonal farming tasks of the week: there are no pick-and-mix preferences or opt-outs – these are purposeful activities pegged to the farming calendar. All three farms share the same core activities which include sowing, growing, and harvesting fruit and vegetables, taking care of livestock, and preparing and learning about nutritious food. Children enjoy long walks and activities including bird-watching, willow weaving, making charcoal and pond dipping. Working with our Social, Emotional and Mental Health Farm School Leaders, children are supported in understanding the benefits of nature to physical and mental health and have time to express themselves through discussion, writing and drawing.

Our work is more important now than ever, as we learn about the impact of the pandemic on young people’s mental health and wellbeing (37% increase in child mental health service referrals, and a 59% increase in referrals for child eating disorders between April 2020 and March 2021). We don’t want our beneficiaries to fall further behind, so we will be welcoming more children than ever to our farms next academic year, including groups from healthcare trusts, looked after children or those on the edge of care, young carers, and those at risk of exclusion.