Care farming, learning and young people: An exploration into the possible contribution of care farming to young people’s engagement with learning

Rachael Fell-Chambers

Abstract

This paper focuses on the qualitative findings from a study that explored the possible contribution of care farming to young people’s engagement with learning. Firstly, the perceptions and experiences of young people accessing alternative curriculum on three care farms were gathered through a methodological approach underpinned by aspects of ethnography. Secondly, care farm providers and school support staff were consulted to provide a deeper understanding into why young people attend care farms, and to ascertain if they felt there were any perceived benefits to their learning.

Data were captured longitudinally during typical farming practices such as collecting eggs, sheep shearing and fencing to capture any naturally occurring evidence. Unstructured interviews, photo elicitation and semi-structured interviews were all triangulated with observational fieldwork notes.

Data yielded in this study found that care farms provide a nurturing and enabling learning environment for young people to self-discover and freedom from the humiliation and frustration experienced by some in the traditional schooling system. The most significant finding was the compelling interplay between the care farm context, the natural environment, and the values of informal education. The informal relational discourse, made evident through triangulated data, synergised with the nature-based pedagogy and the multitude of learning contexts on a care farm. This, therefore, provided a catalyst for young people to learn practically, socially and introspectively.

Fell-Chambers, R. (2022) Care farming, learning and young people: An exploration into the possible contribution of care farming to young people’s engagement with learning. Educationalfutures, [online] Vol. 13(2). Available at: https://educationstudies.org.uk/?p=19021 [Accessed 17 Apr, 2024].