What a week we had! 300 children met our chickens on Monday, 22 pre-school children and their grown ups helped with the bee keeping on Tuesday and 60 children baked brilliant bread with me on Thursday!
We were delighted to have been invited to the Syon Park Estate, belonging the Duke of Northumberland, to support an exciting Countryside Day for Schools organised by Countryside Learning. This was just one of many opportunities for schools to visit a country estate and for the children to learn about what is involved in the management of such an estate and to meet the people who work there.
School groups moved around activities, both inside the house and out in the grounds in classes of 30, the sessions varied from visits to the Confectioner’s Kitchen with jelly and ice cream demonstrations by a cook in period dress, through Game Keeping, Trout Fishing and Falconry. We were invited to bring a selection of our chickens and talk about the food produced on the estate over the last 600 years, beginning with the monastery orchard, the dairy herds of the 1600s, Capability Brown‘s Kitchen Garden (1750- 1800), 30+ Victorian glasshouses for home grown exotic fruits and the dairy herds, pigs and cereal crops managed by the land-girls during the war. Today the estate still has a mighty herd of beef cattle who were nodding in approval from across the field as I explained to the children the benefits of self sufficiency and local food through the years and it’s value and relevance today.
Every child had the opportunity to ‘Hug a Hen’ and our girls were very sociable, even after the 300th child!
If you would like to find out more about urban self sufficiency and cuddle a chicken, we have our next Family Feathers & Fun course in Half Term on Thursday 2nd June.
Whilst we work with a variety of schools throughout the year, both in the classroom and here at Hen Corner, we always enjoy introducing younger children to our chickens, and this week they helped with bee keeping as well! Sara has spent 25 years working with children and young families through local community projects and chairing the advisory board of the LA Children’s Centres so watching young children fearlessly study a frame of live bees or bravely stroke a fluffy chicken is bringing together several of our passions as we facilitate learning through hands on experience.
This week a group of young families from a local nursery brought their children to Hen Corner for an afternoon of discovering where our food comes from. We looked at plants and trees, sowed herb seeds to take home, collected eggs and cuddled chickens and inspected the bees, which included spotting the queen and tasting our award winning honey. Our afternoon ended with cakes big and small and opportunities to buy honey, eggs and preserves.
If you have children who are fascinated by mini beasts and love the sweeter things in life, why not bring them to our special courses Bees for Children on Tuesday 30th August.
Regular readers will be up to date with our baking journey and the new Micro Bakery. Over the last eight months, we’ve been proud to be baking organic real bread for our local community as part of the wider Real Bread Campaign. This last week was Real Bread Week and micro-bakers like ourselves were encouraged to take our skills into schools to train a new generation how to bake wonderful additive free bread by hand.
I approached our local primary school to offer a day of bread making and worked with the year 3 teachers to create a cross curriculum day that would include maths, literacy, science and their current topic of farming and where our food comes from. Every child and staff member made their own hand shape organic white boule which we baked in the school kitchen, all 66 loaves! They cooled on racks in the classroom ready to be packed up in paper bags to take home. See more pictures on the school website here.
‘Thank you so much for the bread making today. It was amazing – I wish you could have seen pupils and parents leaving at the end of the day. Today will be a day that sticks with the children for many years.’ John Wright, Headteacher, St Paul’s CE Primary School
Coming up at the Corner…
Our new season of outdoor/animal courses are well under way with regular Full Day Bee Keeping and Urban Hens – Keeping Chickens in London so if you’ve been thinking about trying something new, do get in quick!
- Our Simply Sausages course was a great success with each guest creating two different flavours of sausage using local free range pork, next course Thursday 29th September
- The bees are starting to store a nice stash of honey for us collecting nectar from a wide range of fantastic local forage
- We had to say goodbye to one of our hens this week, she hatched from an egg that we won in a Twitter competition 5 years ago and sadly had an untreatable illness
Jobs for this week:
- Pick some elderflowers to make delicious cordial
- Join the team at Black Hand Food for a charcuterie course
- Visit fellow Bread Angel Julia Farkas for a Sourdough Bread Course
Join us on the Journey!