"THEY were telling me what I should be doing in the end," joked Graham Stratford, full of enthusiasm for the farm/school link.
He was referring to the ideas the children had come up with for ways in which he and his wife Jenny could earn extra income from the farm. These were chiefly rural tourism ideas, possibly inspired by the visit some of the children had made to Crimea Farm during an activities week in the Peak District.
"Absolutely super," was how Graham summed up the project. "It was better than I thought it was going to be and nice to see them taking an interest in what was going on. I think it helped because I run a single enterprise farm and there are lots of interesting flora and fauna too."
Graham favours opening up farms to let people see what goes on, to take away the mystique that seems to surround modern farming.
The Anstey Lane youngsters accepted that beef animals were bound for slaughter. Graham told them the facts and answered their questions.
Besides having the children on the farm, first as a class and then in small groups for special studies, which included a session when 400-day old cattle were scanned, Graham visited the school several times, first to work with the staff and later to talk with the class. He also provided them with a couple of Learning from the land packs produced for schools by the Food and Farming Information Service.
During the barbecue he was thrilled to receive "60 superb thank you cards" which the children had made during the course of that day.
The project exceeded the expectations of Hereford breed Graham Stratford.
ANSTEY Lane Junior School pupils were the overall winners in a Farming for the future competition run by East Hampshire Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and open to juniors, secondary school children and groups or individuals over 16.
Competitors had to produce at least one map, make an inventory of the farms main assets and its natural history, look at the way in which attractive countryside can be maintained alongside commercial farming, and come up with proposals for the future.
Their prize was a cheque for £500 and they also received £50 worth of tree and plant vouchers for having the best conservation input in their project. The vouchers will help improve their school environment. Decisions on how the £500 will be spent have yet to be made.
The aim of the competition was to make children more aware of the countryside and the source of food, to promote the concept of whole farm plans and to raise awareness of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty designation within the farming community and schools, explained Alison Tingley, the project officer.
The NFU and Hampshire Education and Business Partnership were of great assistance in the early stages, she added.
The participating farmers played a significant part throughout. They attended a seminar along with the teachers and were equipped with extensive information packs. Both farmers and teachers were then left to get on with the job.