Wildlife Trust Back to School

Year 6 pupils from Houghton Primary School in Carlisle, Cumbria, have come up with some wonderful ideas on how to improve wildlife at Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s new organic farm.

The 10- and 11-year-olds suggested building log piles at Gosling Sike Farm to attract snakes, lizards, frogs and toads, as well as small mammals such as voles.

They also proposed creating new ponds and encouraging longer grass around the existing streams and pond to help voles and also attract butterflies and caterpillars; poppies would also attract bees from beehives, which would then help the pollination of the wild flowers in the hay meadow. The trees over the pond could be cut back to allow more light onto the water to make it a better water habitat.

The Year 6 pupils visited Gosling Sike Farm, now the northern base of the Trust, with reserves officer Kevin Scott. He then challenged them to come up with ideas as to how the farm could be improved for wildlife.

The Houghton Primary School pupils returned a few weeks later having carefully researched the habitats that they had seen on their visit and what wildlife might be found there. They had then organized this material into PowerPoint presentations, which they then delivered back at the farm.

‘I am hugely impressed by what these children have done’, exclaimed Kevin, who watched the pupils’ presentations. ‘They have gone way beyond what I expected of them. It is fantastic that they have gone away and come back with all these ideas that they themselves have researched and built up. I am really looking forward to continuing to work with these pupils and others in the school.’

It is a fantastic opportunity for Cumbria Wildlife Trust to engage with the local community in an exciting and meaningful way and to ensure that Gosing Sike Farm is a central part of this village and the wider area.’  Kevin has said that the quality of the pupils’ work has made him determined to work with them on the ground to implement some of their fantastic ideas.

The children also wanted to improve the access around the farm so their fellow students could come and spy on the wildlife without disturbing it in its new home.

Houghton Primary School’s education visits to the farm are supported by Natural England, who funded the temporary classroom that is found on the farm. This classroom provides many schools that visits a dry place in which to gather and learn about the farm and Susan’s work before heading out to discover what the land actually holds.  Nearly 1000 pupils visited the farm in 2010.

More information

Gosling Sike Farm, Cumbria – Gosling Sike Farm is situated in Houghton, on the north-east edge of Carlisle. It has been farmed organically since 2003, with preference to longhorn cattle. It was given to the Trust by Susan Aglionby who has farmed it since 1989. Susan is continuing to look after the land as the Trust’s tenant farmer.

Cumbria Wildlife Trust is looking to improve the farm habitat while also continuing to manage it as an organic farm.
Cumbria Wildlife Trust is a registered charity established in 1962.  We have more than 15,500 members and work in partnership with landowners, local authorities, other conservation organisations and businesses to conserve and protect wildlife and wild places throughout Cumbria.

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