CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

Adam Henson: From the city to the farm

PUBLISHED: 14:35 17 February 2016 | UPDATED: 14:35 17 February 2016

Wick Court, Arlingham

Wick Court, Arlingham


There’s a small corner of Gloucestershire that is probably better known to the children of inner-city Birmingham or Manchester than it is locally

Old Spot at Wick CourtOld Spot at Wick Court

There is a small corner of the Gloucestershire countryside which is probably better known in parts of London, Manchester and Birmingham than it is in the county itself. Now I know that seems unbelievable but this place isn’t only inspiring, it can also provide a life-changing experience for young people from those big cities.

Wick Court is a 140-acre traditional livestock farm which sits on the famous horseshoe bend of the River Severn at Arlingham. The house itself is an impressive building which dates back to Tudor times with its own squared-shaped moat and a gaggle of geese who live beside the five-bar gate that leads to the stable yard. It’s also close to the heart of all rare breeds enthusiasts because it’s where the last pure-bred herd of Gloucester cattle were discovered in the early 1970s.

But what makes the farm even more special is that today it’s run by a remarkable charity called Farms for City Children and it does exactly what its name implies; it provides a week away on a working farm for children from urban areas. This year the charity celebrates its 40th anniversary and in that time well over 100,000 youngsters have visited either Wick Court or the two other Farms for City Children; a mixed dairy, beef and sheep farm called Nethercott House in Devon and a 700-year-old Welsh sheep farm on the Pembrokeshire coast called Lower Treginnis.

Every year, schools from all over country send their pupils (and a few teachers) to these farms to give them first-hand experience of life on the land. What’s really important is that the children don’t just stay on the farm watching adults do the work; they get stuck in and feed, water, fetch, carry, plant, harvest, shovel and dig. So just like full-time farmers, they get dirt on their hands and muck on their wellies!

What impresses me is that the concept is such a simple one. We have all heard those worrying reports about the lack of food knowledge and stories of children not realising that sausages come from pigs or that milk comes from cows. Well here’s a direct way of connecting kids with the food they eat while at the same time getting to grips with farming, conservation and nature.

Farms for City Children was the ingenious idea of the children’s author Michael Morpurgo and his wife Clare. They were both teachers and realised that while city kids are the same as other children, their horizons are different because they live in a world that’s largely made of concrete and tarmac without much fresh air or wide open spaces. So in 1976 they founded their charity with the notion of ‘learning through doing’. Michael is passionate when he explains the difference it makes: “If you can enrich a child’s life early on and give them positive memories, make them feel useful, responsible and happy… then you’ve got a really good chance of turning lives around.”

Of course Michael and Clare’s charity isn’t the only one connecting children with food or farming and there are several organisations and initiatives with similar aims. But 40 years in the same, safe hands is a tremendous achievement that’s certainly worth celebrating. What’s more, to have one of the farms on our doorstep in Gloucestershire is something we should be very proud of.

There’s something magical knowing that those inner-city children have the opportunity to tend sheep, cattle, pigs, ponies and poultry for the first time in their lives. But the one animal at Wick Court that they all want to look after is Valentine the Old Spot sow. Why Valentine? That’s because her birthday is February 14 and one of her spots is heart-shaped. Now if that doesn’t make a youngster fall in love with farming, nothing will!

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamHenson


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Cotswold Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Cotswold Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Cotswold Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & about

Mon, 13:15

Tracy Spiers takes an impressive, if hypothetical, budget on a shopping spree in Cheltenham’s independent stores

Read more
Mon, 12:23

Get out and enjoy seasonal celebrations with a Cotswold twist

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

If you’re looking for things to do in the Cotswolds this month, we have gathered plenty of events for you to pop in your diary

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Hundreds of participating National Lottery-funded visitor attractions across the UK are saying ‘thanks’ to people who have raised money for good causes by buying a lottery ticket, including a number of venues in the Cotswolds

Read more
Monday, December 3, 2018

“We’re looking forward to lots of festive fun this Christmas festival and hope to welcome lots of people to our town.”

Read more
Monday, November 26, 2018

“Faringdon upholds old-fashioned values through its traditional shops, personal service and shop owners who go the extra mile to make their customers feel at home.”

Read more
Friday, November 23, 2018

Home to some of the country’s most breathtaking architecture and picturesque gardens, the Cotswolds boasts plenty of beautiful stately homes you need to visit. We pick eight special locations that are made even more magical during Christmas time

Read more
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Taking the classroom outdoors is fun, inspires fresh ideas, broadens horizons – and encourages a new generation to enjoy and care for the Cotswolds

Read more
Monday, November 19, 2018

Chipping Campden – once the meeting place for a council of Saxon kings – now offers the warmest of welcomes to all its visitors, from the humble shopper to the seasonal shin-kicker

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

As well as three days of action-packed racing and tradition, there’s plenty to do away from the course at this year’s November Meeting. Neil Phillips, The Wine Tipster, shares his 14 suggestions on how to make the most of your time at Cheltenham Racecourse

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Warwickshire town of Alcester is considered one of the best understood Roman settlements in the country. Tracy Spiers digs below the surface to discover its hidden jewels

Read more

Thanks to the impact of ground-breaking comedy This Country, the quiet market town of Northleach has become one of the Cotswolds’ hottest film locations. Katie Jarvis is sent to investigate

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Stephen Roberts walks in the footsteps of the Oxford scholar who enjoyed attending parties dressed as a polar bear, and once chased a neighbour while dressed as an axe-wielding Anglo-Saxon

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

I send this postcard from Cirencester, complete with the discoveries and viewpoints from four members of my family – both the young and not so young

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search