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How to introduce your child to farming and growing

15th February 2021

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Life on the farm and around the plot can be great fun for youngsters, especially when they don’t have to carry out the most demanding jobs. But playing with the animals? Tending to some of the plants? Or offering a little help when needed? This doesn’t sound like much and can be hugely entertaining for curious young minds.
When a child is introduced to a farm’s day-to-day running, and all the work it takes to maintain it, some might not want to continue. That initial shock is avoidable though, and we’ve got some top tips on introducing your children to the farm in a way that they will love.

1. Eat food sourced from the farm
Growing and sourcing food from your garden is a fantastic way to get children interested in your little piece of nature. In time your child will begin to ask where you get the tomatoes, carrots and other veg. When you can point to the garden and ask if they’d like to help - this is sure to pique their interest!
If you don’t have a garden or can’t grow food, you can source fresh vegetables from the local farmers’ market. Take your children to the farmers’ market, introduce them to the farmers, and they will learn how the food is grown.

2. Attend agricultural shows
There is so much technology in our lives now and many children have little time to explore the great outdoors. If you ask a child where milk comes from, some will say that it comes from bottles, or the grocery store. (A survey conducted by Cadburys in 2017 showed that one third of children didn’t know that milk comes from cows!) It’s important to educate children about the food and drink they enjoy and about how it’s made. Agricultural shows are a fantastic way to do this.
They will get to see, learn about and interact with the different kinds of animals that are reared on the farm. They’ll also get to see crops, machinery, and experts in various fields. Your children will meet the farmers and can ask questions to feed their curiosity.
You will be amazed what catches your child’s attention and how keen they are to learn. Most modern agricultural shows offer a wide range of entertainments too, so there is sure to be something for everyone.

3. Involve the child in every stage of farming
If you were to meet a grown bull, you’d be afraid to get close to it. However, if you were to watch the same bull grow up - from a calf into an adult bull - you wouldn’t be so worried by it. You might even be willing to play with it! This is a lesson that children can learn by meeting animals and examining crops.
For instance, they would be more interested in corn if they were to help during all the stages, from planting to harvesting. Many children are amazed by the transformations that nature pulls off in a relatively short space of time. If you have space, you could consider allocating a small portion of the faror plot to your children. They can plant, water and weed and watch as the crops grow.
If you have a farm with livestock, you can give your child the responsibility of looking after a calf, kid, lamb, colt, bunny, or piglet. Your child will watch and engage these animals as they grow. They will form bonds with them and learn a lot about the species.
It’s fascinating watching a plant grow from a seed to a seedling or watching a hen grow hatch from an egg and lay its first egg.
Think about how it felt harvesting your first crop from your kitchen garden after months of preparation. It’s a proud moment for any farmer, even a young farmer. So, if you’re trying to introduce your child to farming, this is a superb way to do it.
Give them free rein over what happens in their allocated garden. Help them out by providing them with the tools, seeds and water. Then let them have fun, grow crops and learn about the natural world.

4. Supplementary materials

Use books, online resources or YouTube videos to teach your child about farming. You can subscribe to food production documentaries on various channels. However, keep in mind that kids have a short attention span. You’ll need something interesting that they’ll want to watch. It’s always important to strike the right balance between education and entertainment.
The Grow Your Own website also has a fantastic selection of growing guides which can be downloaded for free! They are a great place to start with your kids but make sure to pick simpler crops to get started.
There are plenty of suitable, educational YouTube channels. Good examples include Liz Zorab from Byther Farm, Urban Farmer Curtis Stone and the Farmer’s Guardian. Once they’ve watched a couple of videos, you can ask them to replicate what they learnt on a small portion of the farm.
Another option would be to have reading materials such as magazines and posters. If you have a farm with livestock, you could select posters for the walls which help your children to understand the animals in their lives. Everyday before bed, you could talk about the animals, learn about them and even incorporate them into bedtime stories. With time, your children will want to meet these animals in person.
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Children learn from their surroundings, and they’ll copy what their family, friends and teachers do. However, it is possible that some end up hating the environments they are raised in. Therefore, if you want to instil the love of farming in your child, you’ll need to introduce the concept of farming the proper way. It’s important to make it fun and not to be too hard on your children if they struggle to apply themselves, or to understand new concepts.
With these tips and resources in mind, we hope that you and your children enjoy learning about farming and growing together.

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