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Hakuna Matata? Children learn about the circle of life at Wellgate Community Farm

PUBLISHED: 16:00 08 December 2016 | UPDATED: 16:14 08 December 2016

Sammie Aubrey with a goat at Wellgate Farm that is believed to have gone to slaughter. Photo: Tracy Aubrey.

Sammie Aubrey with a goat at Wellgate Farm that is believed to have gone to slaughter. Photo: Tracy Aubrey.

Tracy Aubrey

Just when is the right time to teach children about the circle of life?

A fierce debate broke out on Facebook following a trip Tracy Aubrey, 51, of Marks Gate, made to Wellgate Community Farm in Collier Row with her family.

Ms Aubrey, her two daughters and two grandchildren had been stroking two goats named Pierre and Pablo and became upset after learning from a worker they were to be slaughtered.

“Why give animals names and let children befriend them if they are going to kill them,” said Ms Aubrey.

“I’ve been going for 20 years and I never knew they did that with their animals.”

But the farm’s operational manager, Jon Drane said the circle of life needed to be taught.

He said: “It is an important part of the farm’s educational value to explain where our food comes from and to promote compassionate farming.”

Commenting on Facebook, Jackie Greenwood said: “[I] agree where eggs and vegetables are concerned but the goats are not normal meat for most of the visitors and I have never been informed that [the farm] sell the livestock for meat.”

Malcolm Drakes, executive headteacher of Broadford Primary School, Faringdon Avenue, Harold Hill, said pupils at the school, are taught about life and death from the age of six.

Mr Drakes added: “We look at that quite early on as the Year 2 pupils have eggs from the farm that hatch into chicks. Once they reach a certain height and weight they go back to the farm to become food.

“In Year 2 children also do the ‘farm to fork’ visits with Tesco - death is part of that.”

The Tesco Eat Happy Project involves children following an in-store mini treasure hunt to learn about the source and production of food.

“A farm is primarily a place to produce food. We clearly mention to all our volunteers and visitors that we do sell meat, eggs and vegetables but not on a commercial scale,” continued Mr Drane.

But Ms Aubrey added: “When you go there again and they [the animals] are not there where do you tell them they have gone?”

Joining the Facebook debate, Rebecca Walsh added: “Personally, there is no better way of teaching those who wouldn’t normally have access to farming about how our food is made than a charity farm such as this.

“I’d far rather eat an animal that I know has been well treated and had a fantastic life.”

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