Farms for City Children
|Legal status||Registered charity|
In 1976 author Michael Morpurgo and his wife, Clare Morpurgo (the oldest daughter of Sir Allen Lane, the founder of Penguin Books), established the charity Farms for City Children, with the primary aim of providing children from inner city areas with experience of the countryside. Clare Morpurgo used her legacy after her father's death to found the charity. The programme involves the children spending a week at a countryside farm, during which they take part in purposeful farm work.
The first children arrived in January 1976 at Nethercott House; the charity now has three farms, in Devon, Gloucestershire and Pembrokeshire. In 1999 the couple were created Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in recognition of these services to youth.
Michael Morpurgo has described how the relationship between young boy with a stammer who came with Farms for City Children to Devon for a week and a horse on the farm was partly responsible for inspiring the novel War Horse.
Aims and activitiesEdit
The Farms for City Children charity describes itself thus:
"Over the years the formula has changed very little. Simply, children are involved in everything necessary to keep the farms going. They learn hands-on where their food comes from, the importance of caring for animals and the land, and the value of working co-operatively as a team. The rewards are, unusually, non-material and self-generated: children discover an active enjoyment in life and a sense of achievement, the effects of which remain with them long after they have waved the farms goodbye."
A group of 36-40 children from urban primary schools, accompanied by four or five teachers, spend 7 days on the farm, during which time the children will be split into three groups. The farm jobs are rotated so that each group does each job at least twice, with the result that the second time around the children feel "more like experienced farmers". Jobs include feeding livestock, mucking out, grooming horses and donkeys, assisting at milking time, beekeeping and working in the vegetable gardens. Naturally, many of the activities are seasonal and can include lambing in spring and making bonfires and pressing apples for juice in the autumn.
Currently the charity has three farms:
- Nethercott House, just outside the village of Iddesleigh in Devon. The farm is a Grade II listed Victorian building.
- Treginnis Isaf, near St David's in Pembrokeshire, Wales. Treginnis Isaf is leased from the National Trust and is the most westerly farm in Wales.
- Wick Court, Arlingham in Gloucestershire, a Grade II* listed Elizabethan moated Manor House.
Farms for City Children relies on funding from charitable trusts, foundations and businesses, as well as by individual private donations and community fundraising. The charity subsidises over half the true cost of each child's place, £300 per child; in addition it needs to raise money to maintain the three historic farm properties. Over three farms for each class of 36 children, that is the equivalent of £32,400 a week. The charity's website has a shop which sells merchandise including signed copies of some of Michael Morpurgo's books, with the profits being received by the charity.
An American sister charity, Farms for City Kids, was set up in 1992 by Karli and Jim Hagedorn, who had learned of Farms for City Children on a visit to the UK. Their charity's farm in Vermont was purchased in 1992.
- Children, Farms for City. "About us". Farms for City Children. Retrieved 2019-09-12.
- "BBC Radio 4 Extra - Penguin, Puffin and the Paperback Revolution". BBC.
- "Farms for City Children, registered charity no. 325120". Charity Commission for England and Wales.
- "AdventureBox Books Interview on Farms for Children".
- Gore-Langton, Robert (27 July 2010). "Michael Morpurgo on his sequel to War Horse". Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 4 February 2011.
- Children, Farms for City. "Farms for City Children".
- "Once upon a life: Michael Morpurgo". The Guardian. London. 11 July 2010. Retrieved 4 February 2011.
- "Home page". Farms for City Children. Retrieved 4 February 2011.
- "Activities". Farms for City Children. Retrieved 4 February 2011.
- Historic England. "Nethercott House and Stables adjoining to North-West (1105237)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
- Treginnis Isaf, on the Pembrokeshire Coast. "Treginnis Farm". Treginnisfarm.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2012-04-07.
- "Our Farms". Farms for City Children. Retrieved 4 February 2011.
- Historic England (10 January 1955). "Wick Court, with railings and wall to North (Grade II*) (1090581)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
- "How You Can Help". Farms for City Children. Retrieved 4 February 2011.
- "History of the Farm". Farms for City Kids. Archived from the original on 26 July 2011. Retrieved 4 February 2011.