Earlier this week, my Arthur (9) and I sat down together at the computer.
We had a mission: to find out about something called ‘My Farm’ (introduced to me by Mumsnet). Organised and owned by the National Trust, the concept is simple: their farm – Wimpole Farm in Cambridgeshire – is to be run by the 10,000 members of the public who sign up to take part. There are regular online votes, discussion boards, blogs and live feeds to bring you up to speed with what is taking place as we speak, and you don’t need to know anything about farming, either. Membership (including your voting rights) costs £30 for twelve months. You can read more about it all here.
For me, as the mother of five boys growing up in our predominantly consumer society, this strikes me as an admirable undertaking. I can be heard, I confess, bemoaning the modern shift of emphasis from creating to consuming, and am often horrified by the statistics reported of the number of children who have no idea where a vegetable comes from, or whether or not spaghetti grows on trees… I exaggerate, sure, but in all seriousness I would not wish my children’s perception of the world to be one in which it is more important to know where to buy an iPod Touch than to be connected with the earth on which we live and grow, to which we are vibrationally connected, and last but not least from where our food comes.
We know how to consume it, but could we create it?
We don’t have much of a garden at the moment, though we live in a very rural area and regularly walk past mountains of sugar beet, fields of crops and farmyards. We often express our fervent intention to have some chickens one day, too, so a little healthy research for our family’s future is also to be gleaned here.
But on our first foray, we didn’t get past the piglets…
Quite apart from the fact that I have a soft spot for pigs, the video blog entry of the Houdini piglets was totally enchanting, informative and had Arthur so bewitched that Bertie (4) was soon drawn over to us to see what was going on. We read the article that told us females are called sows but first-time mothers are called gilts (which I confess to not having known myself) and about the developmental necessity of the escapist stage of piglets – not unlike the ‘breaking free of mummy’ phase that our own little ones go through. My stint at the computer was done as the cooking of supper beckoned, and I left Artie and Bertie clicking “Play again” to their little hearts’ content.
My second visit was alone, without any small-fry to distract me, as I cast a ‘parent’s eye’ over the educational potential of My Farm for my own children. I have found votes on which sausage recipe to use, with links to how sausages are made (great information for my little sausage-fans); information about which livestock live on the farm and interesting thoughts about rare breeds; an interactive map of the farm; the environmental impacts of farming amongst other things.
I am looking forward to visiting regularly to keep abreast of events, discussions and votes. Who knows? Maybe we might even summon the courage to join in a discussion or two!
We are fortunate enough not to live too far away from Wimpole Farm so our next mission is to visit and check it out in person…
… and we look forward to it!
This is our planet, our world, our environment, our life. Any project trying to reconnect our increasingly disconnected society, especially our children, with the earth and its bounty gets the thumbs up from me.
I am a member of the Mumsnet Blogging Network, a group of parent bloggers picked by Mumsnet to review products, services, events and brands. I have not been paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity