AN incredible 1620 primary school children experienced the sights, smells and sounds of a working farm recently, when the gates of Heaves Farm, Levens were opened to 47 primary schools from South Cumbria and North Lancashire.

Organisers of the event, Westmorland County Agricultural Society, worked closely with farm owners Roger, Carole, Gary and Jan Mason to deliver two days of discovery and learning for the pupils.

The aim was to encourage and enthuse pupils, and adults, to understand the link between farming and food, whilst participating in the many hands-on and informative activities and enjoying a great day on the working farm.

With 30 bases located around the farm, the children and their teachers were introduced to many aspects of agriculture.

These not only looked at the various aspects of milk production, including the milking parlour, silage, transport, calving and veterinary, but also sheep, pigs, poultry, sheep dogs, woodland, dry stone walling, uses of wool and butchery.

Westmorland County Agricultural Society Chief Executive Christine Knipe said “We don’t shy away from the sometimes gritty reality of farming and the children always enjoy getting hands-on with the activities.”

Newer bases included the “Grain Station” where children could touch and feel different grains and animal feeds, whilst everyone was wowed by “Percy” the Mason’s robotic silage pusher, the interactive app providing vital information on the milking cattle via their collar “fit bits” and the sheep EID station where all the children were tagged.

Without doubt the highlight for many was being able to hold or touch an animal; so the chicks, lambs, calves and sheep dogs were firm favourites and not just with the children. Two groups managed to see a calf being born too!

The children were enthusiastic and participated throughout, eagerly asking questions of the 120-strong band of volunteers involved in running the Open Days.

Visiting the event, Claire Hensman, Lord Lieutenant of Cumbria, was impressed with what she saw. She was amazed by the enthusiasm and dedication of the huge team of volunteers, adding that such educational work is vital for people to understand more about agriculture and the countryside.