BAC students learn stewardship skills to improve Bedales working farm

By Andrew Martin, Head of Outdoor Work

As the Block 5 students near the completion of their BAC projects I thought now would be a good time to share some of the fantastic, challenging work they’ve been up to.

This time last year students were busy discussing possible projects and forming groups based upon shared interests, rather than friendships. Encouraging students to work in such groups enables them to develop important life skills, such as teamwork, listening, tolerance and resilience. Students are judged on their journal, the outcome itself, and, most importantly, their approach and attitude towards their work. The common thread running through all the projects is that each must give something back to Outdoor Work or to the community and estate: a form of stewardship where they learn about the importance of looking after the land for the next generation.

For example, Olav, Carter and Oscar have created a meadow between the new Art & Design building and Outdoor Work (above). To do this the boys learned how to split and shape chestnut poles to make ‘post and rail’ fencing. The meadow will soon be home to our two South Down sheep, Sammy and Saoirse.

ODW chicken pen crop (Large)Other projects include the creation of another chicken pen (right) and the restoration of a polytunnel. This will allow us to cater for an additional 20 Sussex Rangers and 20 Amberlink chickens, in order to increase our free-range egg supply (we are constantly being asked for more eggs!). The shed previously known as the Pineapple House has been converted into a potting shed . To do this, Hannah, Annie and Hanna had to learn a range of skills, including brick-laying, blacksmithing, carpentry and leaded window making. Neri, Jo and Aria have been busy continuing the development of the Bakehouse; adding a considerable amount of storage as well as ensuring our new wood-fired bread-oven, built by Keir Rowe, is completely sealed and weather proof in the new Bakehouse extension.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our pizza shack has been further developed with a new floor, rendered walls, and the addition of many fixtures and fittings. Flora, Max, Dylan and Cameron have managed all this whilst running it as a business every other week, making on average 45 pizzas each time. A number of chestnut and oak framed outbuildings have been built by Max, Archie, Gus and Finn, to store wood alongside all the reclaimed material that we pride ourselves on recycling. An exciting interactive map has been developed by Michael and Jamie, as well as a bespoke orienteering course around the estate. Thanks to Jamie, Olivia and Oscar there is a new terrace around the ODW office and lots more seating around the barns.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The continued development of the ODW Shop (below) by Helena and Keziah is particularly exciting. Not only does it look amazing, it also provides a permanent space for us to sell products from the farm and our kitchen. This is important for two reasons. Firstly, because every penny of profit goes back into the development of the farm. And secondly, it allows students to display the end product of all their work. This could be meat from our livestock, bread or baked goods from the Bakehouse, or craft products from the spinning room and forge.

We are having a mini launch/opening for the new shop during the last week of term, on 21, 22 and 23 of March. Please, please, do come and visit. Your support makes such a difference to the students, and really helps them feel that all their hard work has been worthwhile.

We look forward to seeing you then!

ODW Shop peak (Large)

A sneak preview of the new ODW Shop