FORMER pupils returned to Lancing College farm to celebrate it’s 30th anniversary with a guided tour and a taste of the farm’s very own produce.
Among the guests, most of whom had gone on to work with animals in some capacity, were former pupils Adrian Bell, chairman of the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Barnabas Kay, a regional director of the National Farmers’ Union.
Around 30 visitors were given a tour before sitting down to a meal of free-range meat produced on the farm.
The farm project was started in 1983 as an off-shoot of the science department, when there were just two saddleback pigs, a small flock of sheep and a few hens.
Jon Hutcheon, farm manager of Lancing College farm, has been farming for most of his life, rearing sheep, pigs and poultry, as well as managing cattle and arable land.
He said: “It’s really important that children learn where food comes from.
“At the moment many students just assume that food comes in a packet. We can show them the whole process of rearing animals and animal welfare.
Jon said the farm was working closely with the National Park Authority and was doing a lot of woodland and forestry work.
The farm now covers 70 acres, breeding rare-breed pigs, poultry and a variety of sheep.
Recently the college started using meat from the farm in its kitchen, and what it cannot use is sold locally to restaurants and families.
The school works in conjunction with the South Downs National Park Authority to manage the woodland, ditches, ponds and river adjacent to the farm, replant hedges and monitor the wildlife.
Pupils at the school are taught about wildlife and their habitats, as well as the importance of recycling.
They also learn about crop rotation, as peas, wheat and oats are grown on the wider estate.
There are two beekeepers on the estate and pollination projects have recently been introduced.
The school treats the farm as more than an extracurricular activity, and it forms part of business studies, geography and biology classes, helping students learn about conservation, farming and veterinary medicine.
Local schools and community groups can visit the farm under the ‘Open Farm Sunday’ initiative.
Student Freddie Cooper, 17, said: “In later life I would like to work with animals and so the school farm is very helpful in teaching me the necessary skills and helping me to develop my knowledge of various different types of animals.”
Year-12 student Jack McMinn said the farm had helped him in his plan to study natural sciences at university.
He said: “It’s really fascinating to have a school farm.
“Over the last four years, it has evolved into a proper working environment, and it’s always so cool to see new enclosures and animals arrive.”