David Watson                                  

Wimpole Hall Farm, Hertfordshire


“Health and safety must not put you off having school groups. It’s one of the greatest experiences that kids can have.  If I had not been sat on a tractor as a small child I probably would have never gone into agriculture! There’s a lot of information available on the internet from LEAF and the Health and Safety Executive. Teachers help too. 


I find out how the visit must tie in with the curriculum – art, maths, science etc. Match what you offer to what the group needs – not the other way round. When the teacher visits beforehand, I offer help with a quiz sheet for the walk. 


Machinery can be made fascinating. I always line up a demonstration of a job, like shifting bales for the cattle, to show to the kids lined up safe behind metal gates.  A moving, working farm will stick in their minds. 


Of course animals are a big hit with all ages. Visitors want to touch. We use a lot of alcohol gel; as we go round the farm I carry a bottle. Any child that handles an animal or is exposed to faeces or urine gets a squirt of alcohol gel and shown how to rub it in.


We insist that before eating and drinking and definitely before leaving the farm that all visitors wash their hands with soap and hot water: they get a sticker when they have.


Finally, get feedback from both teacher and children.


Top tips


* Reduce risk

* Really interact with youngsters – don’t lecture them

* Review what went right/wrong


It doesn’t have to be a big do…



You probably think you’ve got to put on a big show, with lots of machinery and animals, helpful signs everywhere, catering, portable toilets and dozens of visitors. But you don’t.


Many of the Open Farm Sunday events are low-key and that’s great.


Putting up a sign in the village and getting half a dozen people to come on a farm walk might sound modest but it’s a lot better than nothing.


If it goes well (which it almost certainly will) then you can stage a bigger event in 2008.


Go on, do it. Ring LEAF (who will give you bags of help and support) on 024-7641 3911, email enquiries@leafuk.org or see http://www.farmsunday.org/leaf/farmsunday/