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Farmwise Devon

Fun events for children to find out more about farming in Devon

How does Devon benefit from its farms?

Scheme of work 2

An outline plan for adaptation as required by schools. Supporting resources are also available.


  • Changes in Britain from the Stone Age e.g. late Neolithic hunter-gatherers and early farmers
  • A local history study e.g. a study of an aspect of history dating beyond 1066 that is significant in the locality.


  • Describe and understand key aspects of land use and the distribution of natural resources including food production locally, nationally and globally
  • Describe and understand a range of economic activities
  • Undertake an investigation of a relevant topic or issue in the local area.

Design and Technology

  • Understand and apply the principles of a healthy and balanced diet
  • Understand seasonality and know where and how a variety of foods and ingredients are grown, reared, caught and processed.


  • Understand that animals including humans need the right types and amount of nutrition and that they cannot make their own food; they get nutrition from what they eat.


  • Use appropriate graphical methods such as pictograms, pie charts and bar graphs to interpret and present discrete and continuous data and to solve problems
  • Begin to decide which representations of data are most appropriate for different data sets and begin to explain why.

Learning and teaching activities and curriculum progression

Some suggested key questions and activities for teachers to work through with their pupils.

1. How does farming help Devon’s economy?

Project the two images of the man shopping in Resource 1.  What kind of things has he been buying?  Discuss with the children what things they have bought recently or have had bought for them?  Now show the children the images in Resource 2.  What is the common word in each of the images?  What do they think consumer means?  Someone who buys things and then uses them up – some things are used up almost immediately and others take longer e.g. a bar of chocolate and a new car.  What other examples of things that we buy and use up quickly can the children think of?  What about other things that we use up over a longer period of time?  Are there any things that we buy that never get used up at all?

Divide the children into pairs and set them the task of producing a detailed list of everything that they have consumed so far during the day.  To begin with this will be straight forward as tangible items such as a piece of toast will be obvious but get them to think about less obvious things such as electricity; gas; the clothes they are wearing; the ride on the bus or in the car; toilet paper; toothpaste etc.  It is worth spending time trying to exhaust this list.

Now explain that the things that we buy and consume fall into two categories – goods and services.  Without defining the terms at this stage provide each pair with the set of images in Resource 3.  Challenge the children to create two sets of images – things that they think are goods and things that they think could be services.  At the end of the activity take time to discuss each one with the children as a group.  What does each image show and has everyone placed the activities in the same categories?

Now what about the images in Resource 4?  How are these different?  Sometimes people provide services that result in a product or good being created as well e.g. a chef in a restaurant provides the service of cooking a meal that consumers buy and eat.  Similarly a network phone provider will offer a product (mobile phone) and a service (access to a network for coverage).  A pizzeria that makes and delivers pizzas provides a product and a service and a satellite service also involves the purchase of a product – the dish.  Purchasing a monthly internet service from say, BT, also comes with a product.

Finally, discuss with the children what they understand to be the difference between needs and wants.  Can they give examples of goods and services which are needs and some that fall into the category of wants?  Needs are things that we cannot live without and wants are things that we can live without but like to have.  To help with this discussion make a list on the whiteboard or flip chart which includes things such as:

  • Nutritious food
  • Clean water
  • Television
  • Medical care
  • Bicycle
  • Opportunities to express an opinion
  • Toys for children
  • Refrigerator
  • Own bedroom
  • Education
  • Money to spend
  • Holidays
  • Household appliances such as toilet, bath and cooker
  • Personal computer
  • Modern clothes
  • Clean air
  • Playgrounds

Before moving on remind the children of the first Farm Wise enquiry: Why are some types of farm in Devon more common than others? Are the things that Devon farms produce goods or services?  Are the things they produce needs or want?  It is important for the children to see that the farms produce goods that we consume and that those goods are, along with fresh water, our most important needs because human beings don’t generate their own food – we rely on farmers and farms to produce it from us.

2. How do all the people working on Devon farms help the local economy?

Explain to the children that at the last census there were 1.1 million people living in Devon and of these residents 354,000 had a job of one sort or another – full time or part time. What percentage of the total number of jobs is this? This is a good opportunity to discuss with the children the kind of jobs that adults in their families may do.  Do any of their family members or close adult friends work in farming?

Out of a total of 354,000 people with jobs in Devon, 31,860 work in farming and in jobs involving making food and drinks for people to consume.  Together this is known as the agricultural and food sector of the economy in Devon.  The 31, 860 figure breaks down as:

Jobs No. of people
Farmers full time 7953
Farmers part time 9836
Other farm workers 5451
Working in food and drink making 8660

Support the children to choose a suitable graphical method such as a pictogram, pie chart or bar graph to present these figures.  If a variety of graphical methods are used by the children then some time can be spent evaluating which method they consider is most effective in communicating the information when displayed.

In addition to this spend some time ensuring that the children understand the kind of work involved in the processing of food and drink into products that they would recognise in shops.  Farming is a primary industry in that in supplies raw materials such as eggs, meat and milk to processing factories to manufacture into food products of one sort or another that we buy in shops.  A farm is a primary industry because it produces raw materials such as milk; whereas a factory making butter from cream is secondary industry (because it manufactures something from a raw material); which means that the shop that sells us the butter is a service industry.

Show the children the film in Resource 5 without any introduction or explanation.  What do they think is happening in this factory?  What food product do they think is being made?  As the film unfolds it will be apparent that butter is the product being manufactured.  What is the raw material required from the farm to manufacture into butter?  After watching the film the children can conduct their own simple science experiment to make butter in the classroom using Resource 6 produced by Primary Science.

As well as illustrating the point that raw materials from farms are manufactured into processed food products which we eat, the experiment demonstrates good science in the sense that cream is what is called an “emulsion”. An emulsion exists when tiny droplets of one type of liquid are floating around in another type of liquid that does not like to mix with the first. In the case of cream, tiny globules of fat are suspended in mostly water. By shaking the cream in the jar, the children are forcing the fat globules to bang into one another and coalesce. If they hit each other with enough force, they will simply stick together, the fat collection becoming bigger and bigger with each extra globule. After enough shaking, the fat globules form a chunk of butter.  To take this experiment even further the children can try different types of cream, such as light cream or whipping cream; each of which has different fat content. They can compare the shaking time needed, the amount of butter created, and the butter’s taste at the end.

All of the goods and services produced and sold each year in Devon totals £11, 000,000,000 (£11 billion)! Of this total £612 million (5.6%) comes from produce sold by Devon farms (£465 million) or made in Devon food manufacturing and processing factories (£147 million).   If the government taxes this at 20% how much tax will it collect from Devon farms and food processing companies?  So, this provides £122.4 million in tax every year to the government.

Next ask the children to think about what the government spends tax generated money such as this on in Devon?  What does the government help to fund – hospitals; schools; nursing homes; social workers; the police; fire brigade; ambulance services; doctors and nurses etc.?  So the £122.4 million in tax that the government collects from Devon farms and food processing businesses helps to improve all of our lives in one way or another.

As a final piece for this key question the children can produce a large A3 poster called: How Devon farms help the local economy.  At the centre the poster needs to include a picture or drawing of a typical Devon farm and the figure of £612 million incorporated within it.  Then the children can draw arrows out from the centre to labelled drawings of things which the money generated by farms in Devon helps to support for the benefit of everyone – such as those (and others that the children can think of) listed above.

3. Who were Devon’s first farmers?

To begin these enquiries (which serve to emphasise the cultural and historical importance of farms and farming in Devon) show the children the film in Resource 7 which charts the evolution of the British countryside since the end of the last Ice Age approximately 13,000 years ago to the present day.  Encourage the children to make a note of the ways in which the countryside changes over the years and in particular:

  • The landscape e.g. changes to woodland cover and the laying out of fields
  • How people lived e.g. the construction of buildings from farm enclosures to villages and towns
  • The kind of farming practised e.g. from small farm enclosures with livestock and small fields growing cereals to modern day farms with large fields growing crops and hi-tech modern machinery.

Ask the children the date that the film suggests farming first occurred in Britain – (4000BC).  So how many years ago is that from the present – about 6000 years.  Explain to the children that human beings have been living in the part of northern Europe called Britain for about 750,000 years.

Something very important – in fact one of the most important changes in human history – happened about 6000 years ago.  Divide the children into pairs and give each pair a selection of the images in Resources 8 and 9.  Tell the children that the pictures in Resource 8 show how human beings lived in Britain from about 750,000 years ago to about 7000 years ago and the pictures in Resource 9 show how Neolithic people were living about 6000 years ago in Britain.  What changed in the way that people lived their lives and in particular how they obtained their food?  Support the children to make observations and to reason (speculate) as to the changes they can see.  Emphasise to them that what they are seeing and discussing was one of the greatest events in human history – up there alongside the invention of the wheel and the use of coal to boil water to operate steam driven machinery.

The great change that occurred was that Neolithic people in Devon introduced farming as we know it today i.e. they learned how to produce their own food through keeping domesticated animals and growing crops.  They also established permanent homes in which they lived all year.  Around their homesteads they kept the ancestors of cattle, sheep and goats which were tended by a few herders so that they did not wander off and were protected from wolves. Domestic pigs were bred from wild boar. Cereal crops such as wheat and barley were grown in small garden plots surrounding the people’s homes. Go through the images in Resource 9 which show these things.  Before the Neolithic people settled in Devon (shown in Resource 9) were the Mesolithic people (Resource 8). They didn’t keep animals or grow crops but moved around the country hunting and gathering the animals, birds, fruit and fish they required.  They were nomadic (wandering) in their lifestyle as opposed to the later Neolithic people who adopted a sedentary (settled down) life in homesteads.

Next present to the children the image in Resource 10 and encourage them also to look at the photographs of White Tor (or Whittor) in Resource 11. White Tor on Dartmoor is very likely to be one of only two places in Devon that we are aware of, where Neolithic people constructed a settlement or encampment as long ago as 6000 years. Based on just these photographs alone ask the children to consider the advantages and disadvantages of this place as a location for a settlement. Resource 12 will help to focus thinking (nearly 500m above sea level and excellent defensive site).

Resource 13 is a sketch map of what archaeologists think the layout of White Tor was like. Support the children to do some research online to discover the meaning of words and descriptions:

  • Enclosure
  • Cairn
  • Stone circle
  • Menhir
  • Stone row

They should make a note of the meaning of each as it will be an important component of the final exercise of this enquiry.

Resource 14 is a map of the small area in Resource 13 referred to as Hill top enclosure.  This shows in detail what archaeologists think the inside of the enclosure would have looked like given the evidence they have found during excavations.

As a final activity challenge the children to produce an artist’s impression of the Neolithic encampment at White Tor.  Review all of the evidence from Resources 11-14. Explain that artists are quite often asked to draw what places looked like in the prehistoric past when there were no photographs, paintings or descriptions in books about locations. Artists today have to rely on what archaeologists unearth as clues as to what the place and people were like.  Look at the photographs and maps and the definitions of key names that the children researched to draw up a list of things that archaeologists feel confident would have been at White Tor 6000 years ago. All of the images of Neolithic life in Resource 9 were produced by artists working on information from archaeologists.  It would be worth revisiting these with the children before they begin to draft their own: Artists Impression of the Neolithic Settlement of White Tor, Dartmoor.  Remind the children that these Neolithic people were Devon’s first farmers and therefore it will be important to show livestock being herded and crops being grown in and around the enclosure.  They can also be encouraged to show food being processed e.g. making flour from wheat, storing apples or cooking joints of meat over open fires etc.

4. What was farming like in Devon 100 years ago compared with today?

Tell the children that farming in Devon has not only changed a great deal over 6000 years but also over the last 50-100 years.  Divide the children into pairs and give each pair as set of the images of Luson Farm at Ivybridge (Resource 15) and Shapwick Grange Farm at Uplyme (Resource 16). Both sets of photographs were taken in the 1920s and 1930s.  Ask the children to describe what they can see.  Encourage them to empathise with the workers in the photographs  What would farming have been like then – what would have been the best and hardest things about working on a farm such as this? Where would all of the workers on the farms have lived? This is a great opportunity for the children to undertake some broader research into life in Devon and the UK in the 1930s. How did most people live? What work did they do? Why was so much work manual?  How did most people travel around? Guide the children towards understanding that in the 1930s many people were needed on Devon farms because almost everything had to be done manually and that machines, as they can see in the photographs, were in their infancy. In addition very few people would have had their own transport such as cars and would therefore have needed to be within walking distance of the farm on which they worked – or at most a bus journey. So in many of the villages of Devon at that time would have lived a lot of farm workers who were day labourers on nearby large farms or estates.

Following on from the above give children the set of photographs of modern farms in Resource 17.  Can they describe what is going on in each of the photographs?  What are the main differences between these and the photographs of farm work in Devon in the 1920s and 1930s?  How many people can they see?  Machines and large fields mean that very few workers are needed to run huge farms now.  Technology such as indoor feeding, irrigation, automated washing of animals, GPS, insecticides and pesticides as well as genetic engineering means that fewer and fewer people are required on farms throughout the UK including Devon.

5. How is farming important in my local community – past, present and future?

A natural extension of the focus of the first four investigations is for the children to conduct an enquiry into farming as part of a local study that combines history and geography.  For many primary schools in Devon farming will be a very significant aspect of the social, cultural and economic history of the local community.  The children can be supported to research, using a very wide range of sources including local members of the community (oral history); farm maps; photographs; newspapers; census records; parish records etc. to discover the historical dimension and evolution of farming in the local area over time.  An excellent starting point could be Devon Records Office

If there is sufficient and detailed enough data then one or two farms in the locality could form the basis of this historical research.

In relation to geography the children could investigate the present day characteristics of several nearby farms and in particular what they produce and why?  What are the environmental conditions which favour the type of farms we find in the locality of our school?  Why has the farmer chosen to produce what he or she does rather than something else?  How does the government or the European Union influence the type of farming locally?  What are the major constraints and difficulties which farmers locally face? How do the farmers in my local area feel that farming has changed in their working lifetimes and why?  How do they think that farming locally is likely to change in the future?  Why do they feel this?

Download a pdf copy of the scheme of work No. 2



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Supported by Devon County Council