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Discover organic farming and wildlife

Friday, 05 January 2018
Lucy Flatman, Outdoor Education Assistant, Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust

Organic farming is defined as a ‘whole system’ approach to farming; one that uses fewer pesticides to cultivate the land and rear animals. Organic farms also aim to help wildlife, by providing and maintaining important habitats for our native species. On average, organic farms provide homes to 50 percent more wildlife than non organic. In particular, birds, small mammals and invertebrates benefit, including some of our most important pollinators such as bees.   

On organic farms, farmers actively nurture habitats for wildlife, from letting hedgerows grow, to retaining wildflower meadows and keeping grassland taller. These habitats, both large and small, are perfect for exploration and help demonstrate the interrelation between farming and wildlife. Learning about the wild species that can be found on organic farms adds another dimension to children’s understanding of farming and how farmers manage land for wildlife. It can tie in easily with science (habitats, food chains), geography (human and physical) design technology (understanding nutrition and where food comes from), as well as literacy and numeracy. 

Occombe Farm is a 150-acre site in Torbay, South Devon. We have herds of Aberdeen Angus and Ruby Red cows as well as a flock of Suffolk Down sheep. Part of the farm site is open to the public and visitors can visit the smallholding and animal paddocks to see a variety of farm animals. An ‘Occombe Discovery’ school session combines learning about organic farming with exploring farm wildlife. School groups do seasonal minibeasting, either meadow sweep-netting or woodland bug-hunting, as well as bird spotting in our woodland hide. The session teaches them about both our farm ‘mega-beasts’ and our wild minibeasts and how the two are connected and about the way we farm help abundance of wildlife, from rare flowers to great insects and endangered mammals. Book a school session to learn more about farm animals and explore wildlife on a working farm.

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