A few weeks ago I visited Old Holly Farm near Garstang on an organised Pre-School outing with my youngest daughter. Like many days in June, it was drizzly but two, three and four year olds don’t seem to bother about the weather and it certainly didn’t dampen anyone’s enjoyment, in no small part due to the great facilities at the attraction and the excellent organisation of the visit by the staff.
When we arrived we were immediately greeted by a member of staff who took us into the “classroom”. The group of around 30 was split onto 3 smaller groups to ensure a more personal visit so that every child had a chance to experience every part of the farm. Our first activity comprised hands-on animal handling and crafts. All the children were asked to make their arms into an enclosure round a large table and were then given a 2 week old chick each to “guard” – these novices can jump though and soon there were chicks running and pooing all over the table, much to the children’s delight! The group then made woolley sheep pictures out of black paper, cotton wool and wobbly eyes to take home.
The group moved next to The Barn, an indoor soft play area, compact but on many levels, offering hours of entertainment. This is overlooked by one of the 2 cafes, so adults could have refreshments while the little ones ran off steam.
After lunch – we brought a packed lunch which we could eat outside or in the classroom but light snacks are also served in The Courtyard Tea Room – we had time to explore the shop and sample the Cool Cow ice cream which is made on the premises using the organic milk from the farm. After much deliberation between strawberry and honeycomb, I opted for the latter and was not disappointed with the creamy texture and delicious pieces of honeycomb. The shop offered products from many local producer names I’m now familiar with in my role as Taste Lancashire Executive – soft drinks from Mawsons Traditional Drinks, meat from Ribble Valley Meat Company, honey from Crossmoor Honey Farm, bottled water from Bowland Water, a range of Lancashire cheeses and the eggs, both for the shop and the café are provided by the free range, organically fed chickens on the farm. I bought a piece of Garstang Blue cheese made by the award-winning cheesemaker, Dew-Lay, which I hid in the fridge from the rest of the family when I got home so I could enjoy it all myself – delicious!
The group’s final activity was a tour of the animals which included goats, rabbits, sheep, cows, horses, a huge pig who snores loudly and hens where the children each collected an egg for the basket. All of the animals are docile and friendly and the children are actively encouraged to touch them and interact with them. If we had been able to stay later into the afternoon we would have had an opportunity to view milking time, to show the children where their milk originates from but we had to leave, with promises to return with older siblings soon.