Award winning educational facility
By Geoff Carr former head of Rural Science, Chipping Campden School March 2020
Wolds End Orchard provides a unique and valuable resource for schools and other local groups to learn about nature and rural skills. This educational work has already spread out beyond the town and has been recognised by winning:
Best School Food award from Cotswold Life magazine, 2010 (won)
Enterprise and Innovation Award from School Farms Network, 2017 (won)
School Farm Environmental Impact award, 2019 (runner up).
Below are examples of how the Orchard has been used – and can be used in the future - for educational purposes.
Chipping Campden School took on two consecutive six year leases of Wolds End orchard in 2008 for the following reasons:
1) To facilitate practical teaching in animal husbandry for both the GCSE in Environmental and Land-Based Science and the Diploma in Environmental and Land-Based Studies. The space in the orchard provided grazing space for the school flock of Cotswold Longwool sheep and a paddock for their Gloucester Old Spot pigs. As part of the diploma course, students from other schools worked and learned in the orchard. Student Ambassadors from Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester also helped.
2) To provide an area of significant biodiversity for study by mainstream GCSE science classes and A level biology students.
3) To enable students on the Rural Crafts course to gain experience of tree planting, grafting, coppicing and green woodwork.
4) To harvest, process and sell apple juice as a joint project between the environmental, business and catering sections of the school.
5) As a public service project for the town, to maintain the orchard for maximum biodiversity and replanting with new trees to ensure its continuity. Duke of Edinburgh Award students helped out for years, planting many replacement trees.
6) To provide a knowledge base for schools across the county. I organised many visits from all the local primary schools. I received training in orchard management and juice making and then shared these, teaching grafting skills and establishing orchards in several secondary schools across Gloucestershire.
The produce from the project (lamb, pork sausages and juice) was sold mainly in school to staff and through the canteen. The juice was also sold in Old Farm Dorn farm shop, Fillet and Bone delicatessen in Campden and we supplied the prestigious Chef's Dozen restaurant.
In addition each year, many kilos of apple crisps were made and distributed free to the students at our annual apple day celebrations, along with fresh fruit.
The business side of the project was registered as a Community Interest Company with the assistance of David Kingsmill from The Campden Society and Arthur Cunynghame from Campden Business Forum.
Many local people also took an interest in the orchard, supplying trees and helping to plant them and undertaking maintenance work. We received several grants from local funding agencies to help with the cost of maintenance as well as donations from private individuals. For the last ten years we have also held a traditional Wassail ceremony in the orchard, celebrating the importance of orchards in a rural community.
The project brought great enjoyment and many learning opportunities as well as making much appreciated products. The staff, volunteers and students involved would I'm sure agree with me in saying that Wolds End orchard is a special place of peace and tranquillity: a haven for wildlife. I hope that others in the future will be able to have the joyful experience of spending time in such a lovely environment.