Cheshire Farm Ice Cream is a dairy farm in south west Cheshire that specialises in the production and sale of ice cream. The farm’s Ice Cream Parlour has become a popular visitor attraction for over 250,000 people annually. The farm now includes a tea room, an under 6’s play barn, an outdoor adventure play area, a gift shop and rescued birds of prey and small animals.
Following the difficulties of the foot and mouth crisis, the farm owners wanted to place a stronger emphasis on educating visitors and school pupils about farming and the countryside. This was the start of the farm’s educational work, which saw the construction of a new education room, a viewing gallery over the milking parlour and indoor interactive and static displays about farm processes.
The educational work mainly involves day visits by nearby primary school groups, although there have been secondary school visits from as far away as France, Spain and the Czech Republic. A day at the farm is typically divided into a series of indoor and outdoor activities (see below), all of which are facilitated by Women’s Food and Farming Union guides.
Visiting the animal shed and thinking about cows as working animals
Watching nesting birds and listening to bird songs at the wildlife pond
Seeing barn owls and learning about their habitats and how they hunt
Talking about local food produce in the farm shop
Watching a video about the milking process or ice cream production
Doing a huge jigsaw of food from the north-west
Playing the ‘where do I come from?’ food game
Talking about the wall charts about conservation or the farming day
All of these activities are linked to learning objectives in subjects such as literacy, science, geography and personal, social and health education. The key focus is on enabling children to learn more about where their food comes, particularly in relation to the ‘cow to cone experience’.
Miranda Shufflebotham, Head of Education at the farm, stressed the excitement that is seen amongst children coming to the farm and the countryside for a day. Feedback from teachers and parents suggest that the experience ‘can help to bring children out of themselves’ in terms of being more confident or trying new food products. Pupils from special schools, in particular, have responded very positively to the animals and the outdoor activities.
Supporting teacher learning is another important dimension of Cheshire Farm Ice Cream’s work and the provision of a wide range of support materials for subsequent follow-up work back at school is seen as another potential benefit.
Cheshire Farm Ice Cream
T: 01829 770446