July 2018 - Huge congratulations to Miss Jamieson and her students. Winners of the School Farms Community Impact Award 2018 (tweet). An inspiring awards ceremony at the Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester.

This video showcases the very first LEAF Education & Llysfasi College Innovation School of the Year Competition, which took place on the 29th - 1st July 2018 with five schools. A weekend full of activities and hard work led to the students presenting to the groups why ‘farming is much more than mud and wellies’ - Video (Youtube)

Priestlands was selected to take part, with a full weekend of agricultural sessions led by experts in the field, and immersed themselves in hands on practical activities on the 1000 acre working farm.

Mollie Sharkie, Jasmine Metcalf and Lowri Saunders who enjoy animal care and practical horticulture in the school’s Walled Garden threw themselves in to the experience. The girls found themselves milking cows, weighing livestock, tractor driving, sheep and cattle handling, calf feeding, completing countryside habitat practical work, and were given insight in to genomics, nutrition and the use of science and technology to enhance agricultural systems.

Mollie explained that, “the weekend gave me a broad overview of what farming involves. My favourite aspect was interacting with and handling the calves. Jasmine simply stated, “she had an animal overload in the best way!” whilst Lowri “thoroughly enjoyed being involved in all the practical experiences, even when they proved challenging!”

Alex Jamieson from Priestlands School said, “Our young people soaked up the entire experience and gained a clearer insight to the hugely varied world of agriculture, how it has developed in recent years and employment possibilities in the sector. Furthermore they merged with pupils from other schools, worked hard and we all had lots of fun!” The staff at Llysfasi were fantastic, engaging and encouraging the youngsters.

The group returned with their finalists trophy, great memories, new friends and knowing that farming is ‘so much more than mud and wellies’.


Update 24/6/14

It feels like ages since I put pen to paper to give you a garden update. Needless to say the garden has gone mad with the warmth and the rain and we have even been selling our wares! Other than the eggs (the girls are still doing their best!) we have had sunflowers, sweet peas, herbs, vegetable plants, strawberries, potatoes, courgettes and for the first time this week green beans for sale! The flowers and vegetables have been cut, picked or dug up by my handy team of students and money happily taken from staff across the school departments.

We also had our first live music event on a very sunny Friday lunchtime. Olly Sanderson, a talented Year 10 singer/songwriter, sounded fantastic with his own songs and the odd cover thrown in. Staff and students alike enjoyed the event and Olly raised £40 to go back into the Walled Garden – thank you Olly! You can see him play at this year’s Priestival in July.

This year we are running the first Priestlands Sausage competition, where students from Years 7, 8 and 9 are invited to enter a presentation depicting an individual flavour of sausage they have created. Some great ideas have been floating about and I can’t wait to see what materialises! Entries are to be delivered to The Hub during activities week and on the Thursday , our local butcher and prize winning sausage maker, will be coming in to judge them. The two winners from each year group will have the opportunity to make their creation in the butcher shop the following week!

Activities week is shaping up to be fun; we are going to attempt to make a ‘Pigwam’. Over three days, the students that are out in the garden will construct, decorate and trial the finish product before we let the pigs loose in it. On top of that there will be cleaning out, harvesting and general garden upkeep going on.

Our commemorative poppy planter, adorned with a war poem, has started to bloom and provides a vivid reminder of the sacrifices made by service personnel over the years.

We are just about to be inundated by tomatoes, the plants are huge and strong and covered in yellow flowers. The garden is open every Friday lunchtime and once they are ready we’ll be offering taste tests to anyone that wants to try them!

I hope you have all been enjoying the sunshine,

Warm wishes
Miss Jamieson

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hi Everyone,

So much seems to have happened lately and so quickly, I’m not too sure where to begin!

Let’s start with a pig update. Our five girls are coming on a treat; apart from looking well rounded and fit they now have some toys to play with. A donation of footballs gives them something else to do, along with a couple of tyres which are good spots for hiding their food in! As they’ve grown they have got much stronger which makes exiting the feed shed trickier; the contents of the bucket is their main focus and you simply get in the way! Still, at least they have hearty appetites!

The chickens on the whole are looking fantastic! They have all feathered up and are looking really well. Egg production is creeping up but we are still a fair way off the 18 a day that I’m hoping for. Sadly we have lost two in recent weeks. One of them never really recovered from her battery days and quietly lost the will when I took her home for some peace, and the second one appeared to be natural causes one night in the chook house. On the upside at least it wasn’t down to Mr Fox – we are currently winning that battle. I think having five saddleback body guards certainly helps!

This week saw the latest additions to our animal team, two adorable pygmy goats. They have settled in really well and are very popular with the students. They are still a little shy but I’m hoping we’ll be able to get halters on them soon.

The wet and warm weather has everything growing like mad. My trusty team of Year 10 boys are doing a great job at keeping on top of the lawn mowing. The raised beds look great, neat rows of vegetables and herbs are emerging; the strawberry plants inside the poly tunnel are amazing and weighed down with green fruit already. I wonder what we’ll be able to sell first! Next week some Year 7s will be planting out their sunflowers that have got off to a roaring start – once they’ve weeded the space first of course!

It was also a pleasure to welcome Miss Crisell’s Year 9 English group to the garden; they were gaining inspiration for some descriptive writing.  I’ll endeavour to get some posted so you can see what they came up with.  Mrs Robert’s maths class have also been maintaining their raised bed and are planning to make some profit out of their outdoor learning!

Warm wishes to you all, and let’s hope May brings more sunshine for us!
Miss Jamieson

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It’s hard to believe that March is drawing to a close already and the Easter holidays are just around the corner. The pigs have been with us now for 5 weeks and our chooks just for 3 yet it feels like they’ve always been here! The pigs are growing at an incredible rate and the chooks getting stronger and braver every day. Many students have had the opportunity to come out and visit the animals and learn about how they ended up with us. The battery chickens really have provided food for thought. Some classes of Year 7 English are using them as a stimulus for their persuasive writing techniques, to encourage people to consider where their supermarket eggs are coming from and at what cost to the animals. To help them have a close look at the condition in which some of them arrived ‘Marjorie’ made an appearance in Ms Bilsborough’s class, whilst other classes have been out to the chicken coop.

Not only do our young people get the opportunity to learn from our outside environment, I do too. This week I am going to tackle the job of ear tagging the pigs, it’s a first for me and I will be given guidance from our local Butcher. 

Wishing you a wonderful start to April

Warm wishes

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

On March the 8th our school rescued 20 battery hens. When we first saw one it had most of its feathers but when we saw a few more some had less than half their feathers. This is because they were in cages for a long time and they are also getting used to a larger space. Had this not happened they would be dead by now. When we were feeding them we noticed that one of the largest chickens was trying to eat all the food. But at least they are safe now. Apart from that I’m sure we can all hope they get better.

Alex Leach 7ELR

 

I think that the chickens are cute and they come from a battery farm. We will take care of them and we will give them a better life because they were locked up in a cage and laid  eggs and were not allowed out of their cage.

Jasmine Macnauton 7ELR

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hello to you all once again!

March the 8th was another very exciting day for The Walled Garden. I had received notification from the British Hen Welfare Trust that Saturday afternoon was the day that they were rescuing their next batch of battery chickens to prevent their slaughter and that we could collect the twenty that we had reserved. So at half past one we headed off to Sturminster Newton armed with a variety of boxes and carriers to collect our birds.

All the hens are taken from the farm where they are caged, to a host farm just for the day and all the 'rescuers' collect their birds from there. We had a time slot allocated and arrived accordingly where 10 volunteers were busy collecting paperwork and boxing up hens. They were in a range of states from full plumage to bald, lively to frail, noisy to silent, but all were frightened and unaware that their fortunes had just changed. During the journey the car started to warm up and a ripe chickeny smell wafted around; another reason to get these girls to their new home as safely and quickly as possible!

Box by box we unloaded the chooks straight into their house delousing them as we went - rest assured we won't have lice either as the powder was going everywhere! It was still shocking to see the state of these animals that are quite simply egg machines, some so small and light they had no flesh on their bones at all. Their combs pale in colour and flopped in to their eyes - another sign of their poor health. With rescue complete, we shut them in for their first night.

I was very excited to go to school the next morning to let them out for their first taste of fresh air and real freedom, although I was slightly nervous opening the door in case any hadn't made it through the night, but twenty bewildered faces looked back at me. I lifted them out of the house as they had no idea what was eggs-pected of them (sorry I couldn't resist that!) and gingerly they looked around. They stayed close to the house and started scratching around; a natural instinct they had not had the opportunity to exhibit before this day. I checked the house to make sure I hadn't left any behind and to my amazement one kind chook had left an egg! A sign of things to come!

And here we are a week and a half later and the girls have improved so much. They are friendly and exploring, standing taller and putting on weight; whilst there are no eggs currently I'm sure that as recovery continues that will change. Many of the students have had the opportunity to come and take a look, and their reactions have included many "ahhhhh"s.  All have had a moment to pause for thought about what these birds have been through.

I trust you have all enjoyed the wonderful weather, it does put a spring in all our steps.

Warmest regards
Miss Jamieson

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Wednesday 26th February was cause for great excitement out in the Walled Garden. At 9.45 a vehicle arrived outside the gate that was towing our new arrivals - five, 12 week old saddleback pigs. The boys had been working hard in preparation, cleaning out the pig sties, litter picking, clearing the pig paddock, re-securing fencing (to ensure the new arrivals stayed where they are supposed to!) and finally putting up livestock hurdles to provide an enclosed walk way which would mean we didn't spend all morning chasing escapee pigs around the garden!



With the trailer in place down came the ramp and with the encouragement of some feed our girls gingerly made their way from the security of the transport in through the gate of their new home. They looked quite small out there and little unsure but it didn't take long for them to settle in. Finding their sty loaded with fresh straw was great entertainment for them, jumping in it, hiding in it and chasing each other in and out of it before the enormity of their day hit; and they flaked out in it together - securely tucked in close to the next sister.

The paddock itself is still very wet because of the incredible amount of rain we have had. It will take some time for it to dry out, however our girls don't mind in the slightest. Sporting muddy socks they mooch around quite happily investigating, playing and looking for food - a rather nice way to spend the day!

Next week our hens are being collected, I'll let you know soon how they manage to settle in.

Warm regards
Miss Jamieson

---------------------------------------------------------

As Spring is approaching there can be no better time to introduce to you what is coming to life in our Walled Garden. With a new injection of enthusiasm, a slight change of direction and some new faces - in and out of school uniform this year looks set to be a fantastic one for outside learning. Here’s what has been going on:

Returning chickens and pigs to the garden was our first priority; along with the welfare of these new inhabitants. So the pigsty roofs have been hot felted in order to keep the rain out (never has the need been greater!)and the livestock fencing re-secured to keep the pigs in! New feeders and troughs are ready for action. The chicken coop has been extended so the birds will have plenty of room that they will now be sharing with our Orchard; some new trees are ready to be planted alongside the current ones. A large, new chicken house is just having the finishing touches put to it (thank you Adam, Northfield Nursery); the girls will be delighted!

Most of our chickens are coming from the British Hen Welfare Trust who do a great job finding new homes for battery chickens – the ‘ex-batts’ as they are affectionately known.  They will need some time and care to adjust to their new life but we’ll let you know how they are coming along. Having visited them a number of times I now can’t wait to get them on site. All our new residents will be with us the week after half term. Photos to follow!

Since being cleared and levelled the garden is starting to grow! Our polytunnel is now up and home to some young strawberry plants (thank you Brian, Goodhall Strawberries).  Alongside them are sweetpea seeds, some harvested from my garden last year and some donated (thank you Otter Nurseries for all your generous donations).It will be interesting to see which are more successful! The many bulbs that were planted are starting to pop up all over the place; and the ground has been made ready for seed potatoes to go in. One bed of wild garlic is coming up, the smell will be wonderful! Finally, to commemorate the centenary of World War I an old trough has been planted up with poppy seeds.  We hope it will grow into a beautiful, visual reminder for the school.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading, watch this space and we will keep you up to date on the goings on in the Walled Garden.

Warm wishes

Miss Jamieson

Walled Garden Blog