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Farmwise Devon

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

Why are some types of farm in Devon more common than others?

Scheme of work 1

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


  • 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

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


  • Describe the differences in the life cycles of a mammal, an amphibian, an insect and a bird
  • Construct and interpret a variety of food chains identifying producers, predators and prey
  • 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.  Where do our favourite fruit and vegetables come from?

Talk to the children about fruit and vegetables.  How many can we all think of as a group?  Take feedback and make a list on the board to include all of the responses of the children.  Is everything we have suggested a fruit or vegetable e.g. a tomato is a fruit and a banana is in fact a herb!

Now divide the children into pairs and give each pair a set of the images of ten fruits in Resource 1 (or ideally bring in actual specimens for the children to handle and examine).  Firstly challenge the children to name each of the fruits.  Next explain to the children that these ten fruits are the UK’s most popular according to a survey by the Health Food Manufacturer’s Association in 2013.  Tell the children to put the photographs of the fruit into rank order 1-10 according to which they think would be most and least popular in the ‘top ten’.  Can they get the order right?

Now the children can compare their ranking with the survey:

  • Banana
  • Tomato
  • Apple
  • Grape
  • Orange
  • Pineapple
  • Peach
  • Plum
  • Mango
  • Pear

How did they do?  How does this ranking compare with the individual preferences of the children?  Are there any fruits missing from the ‘top ten’ that the children feel should be included?

Now ask the children to consider which five of the top ten fruits is grown commercially by farmers in the United Kingdom?  Five cannot be grown commercially by farmers – which are they are why can’t they be grown in Britain?  Finally ask the children whether the five that can be grown in the UK – tomatoes; apples; grapes; plums and pears can be grown in Devon?  Do the children grow any of these at home e.g. fruit trees, annual tomato plants and perennial grape vines?  All five are grown in Devon.

This activity can be extended by doing exactly the same thing with the UK’s favourite top ten vegetables but this time finding out how closely the preferences of the children compare with the national survey of adults who were asked the same question. Ask the children to think of as many vegetables as they can and make a list on the board.  Now ask them to rank the vegetables they like 1-10.  Next give out the photographs of the top ten vegetables in Resource 2 (or ideally have the vegetables available for the children to hold and examine) and support the children to firstly name them and then put them in rank order of popularity 1-10.  The survey of adults revealed the following preference:

  • Carrot
  • Potato
  • Onion
  • Broccoli
  • Lettuce
  • Cucumber
  • Cauliflower
  • Spring greens
  • Spinach
  • Celery

How close were the children?  How many of the nation’s favourite vegetables are grown commercially in the UK?  How many are grown in Devon?  All of them in both cases.

Before moving on take time to link the activities above to the importance of nutrition and a balanced healthy diet which includes fresh fruit and vegetables.  Useful websites with many ideas and resources for work with primary aged children on food and nutrition include:

2.  What is a typical Devon farm like?

Provide each child with a copy of the map of the UK in Resource 3.  This shows the main farming types in our country. Using a wall or atlas map point out the area of Devon on Resource 3 and ask the children which farming type is most common in Devon?  It says: Cattle (dairy and beef cows).  Now show the children the photographs of Devon farms and countryside in Resource 4 and ask them to describe what they can see.  What is the Devon farming landscape like both from the air and from the ground?  Fields growing grass (pasture) for cattle surrounded by hedges and with associated farm houses and buildings.  What are the cattle showing being reared for?  Look at the additional clues in Resource 5.  How many different cattle products can the children identify?  Quicke’s Dairy Farm near Newton St Cyres in Devon is an example of a farm that uses the milk from its dairy herd to make traditional cheddar cheese.  Show the children the excerpt of film in Resource 6 from 00.42 – 05.12 filmed at Quickes Farm.  Ask the children in particular to consider:

  • How many years is it before calves produce milk?
  • How much milk on average does an adult milking cow produce?
  • What practical purpose do hedgerows serve and why are they important for wildlife?
  • What happens to the cheese they make – important here to emphasise that the farm is a commercial business which like any other business aims to make a profit by selling products for more than they cost to make! 17 local people are employed on the farm in one capacity or another.
  • How many people can they see working on the farm in the film and what jobs are they doing?
  • How many workers are there in the photographs and what are they doing?

3.  How do hedges on Devon farms make my world go around?

The Devon Hedge Group has a number of lines of enquiry for primary children which enable them to understand the importance of hedgerows on Devon farms for biodiversity.

The enquiry entitled: How do hedges on Devon farms make my world go around? focuses on the very rare Brown Hairstreak butterfly.  Hedgerows on Devon farms are one of the few places in the UK where it lives and breeds.  Through following four steps in the enquiry children are able to build up the life cycle of the butterfly and understand its role in a number of food chains.

4.  Why is Devon such a good place to farm cattle?

Devon is one of the very best places in the whole of the UK to farm cattle.  A very important reason for this is that the climate of Devon is particularly suited to keeping cattle.

Divide the pupils into pairs and give each pair a set of the seven maps produced by the Met Office in Exeter in Resource 7.  Take time to explain to the children what aspect of the weather and climate of the UK is shown in each map making sure that they understand key terms such as annual; mean and average.  On each map they can draw in pencil the area of Devon.  Now challenge the children to interpret the maps from the perspective of a Devon farmer keeping cattle.  If you were a Devon cattle farmer what would you want and not want in terms of the weather and climate?  Compared with the rest of the country what is it about most of Devon that makes it a good place for farming cattle?  Encourage discussion and speculation.  Allow plenty of time for this activity and then take feedback from the children and make a list of all the reasons they come up with on the board.  The children will identify that compared to the rest of the UK most of Devon has the warmest temperatures in winter; a high number of annual sunshine hours; the lowest average number of days with lying snow; the longest growing season; the lowest days of air frost and heavy rainfall.  Now ask the children to consider why all of these things together are good news for cattle farmers in Devon?  If it is mild and wet all year with long sunshine hours and little or no frost or snow then the grass will continue to grow for most of the year and the cows can stay in the fields rather than having to be brought in to barns to be fed.

5. What happens on a Devon beef farm?

Ask the children to consider what else, other than milk and dairy products such as cheese, cattle provide us with in the way of food – look again at Resource 5 if required.  Many farms in Devon such as Piper’s Farm rear cattle for meat for us to eat.  Watch the section of film in Resource 8:

  • What is the name of the beef cattle that Peter Greig rears on his farm?
  • What is a bullock?
  • Why is the quality of the grass that the cattle eat so important – what does it provide?

Now show the children the second half of the film of Piper’s Farm in Resource 9:

  • Where does Peter take the cattle when it is time for them to be killed?
  • How does he help to make this as stress free for the animals as possible?
  • How is the carcass of the animal divided up before it returns to the farm?

In the film Peter shows different cuts of beef on the carcass – what are the following cuts of beef best used for in cooking: shin; topside; rump; sirloin; fillet and rib? What does Peter suggest would be the best meat to mince up to make excellent beef burgers?

6. What kind of farming is found on the higher and hillier land of Devon?

Ask the children to look again at the farming map in Resource 3.  What kind of farming takes place in the higher areas of Devon with more hills?  Because these areas (such as Exmoor and Dartmoor) are higher they are colder and wetter and much more likely to experience frost and snow during the year.  Because of this and the rougher and steeper landscape, sheep rather than cattle are preferred by farmers.  Show the children the film in Resource 10 about a Devon sheep farm rearing and selling its lambs to Tesco for meat.  In particular support the children to consider:

  • How many days before lambing are the sheep brought in to the barn?
  • After how many days do the lambs begin to feed on the grass in the fields?
  • What other food are they given to help them grow strongly?
  • Why do Graham and Rachel think that Devon is such a good place for rearing lambs?
  • Why does Graham think that Tesco get the very best from lambs reared on Devon farms?

7. What is a Market Garden farm?

On the map in Resource 3 Market Gardening is shown as a third important type of farming in Devon.  Explain to the children that this involves growing fruit, vegetables and flowers on relatively small areas of land, often with the support of greenhouses and poly tunnels such as those shown in Resource 11.  Many farmers of market gardens sell their produce direct to supermarkets, food co-operatives and farmers’ markets.  The Four Elms Fruit Farm at Sidmouth is an example of a market garden.  Play the passage of film in Resource 6 from 05.13 to the end:

  • What is an orchard?
  • How many different types of apple does Richard grow on the farm?
  • Apart from selling the apples to shops and markets what else does Richard use the apples for?
  • How does having beehives on his farm help Richard?
  • In what other ways are small invertebrates important to farmers such as Richard?
  • The fields on Richard’s farm support a wide variety of biodiversity.  What is biodiversity?

8. Which statistical method of representing data about Devon farms is most appropriate and why?

Divide the children into groups of three and provide each group with the data sets in Resource 12.  This data compares the percentage of farm holdings in different categories in Devon with the comparable percentages for farms in England and Wales as a whole.  Each of the three children in the group can represent this data using a different graphical method: a pictogram, a pie chart and a clustered bar graph.  When all three children have completed their graphic encourage them to discuss which method is most effective in conveying the information to someone who might be looking at all three for the first time and may not know a great deal about farming?  Within the class is there a general consensus about which one is most appropriate?

9. How many of the ingredients of Britain’s favourite dishes are produced on Devon’s farms?

A recent UKTV food survey asked British families which dishes they most commonly made at home without using a recipe.  The top ten dishes were:

  • Spaghetti Bolognese
  • Roast beef dinner
  • Chilli con carne
  • Lasagne
  • Cottage or shepherd’s pie
  • Chicken stir fry
  • Beef casserole
  • Macaroni cheese
  • Toad in the hole
  • Vegetable curry

Each child could be allocated one of the dishes above to research and challenged firstly to identify all of the ingredients necessary to make the dish and then to decide which ingredients are likely to be produced on Devon farms?

Download a pdf copy of the scheme of work no. 1


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Supported by Devon County Council