There are places where “urban” children can live in close contact with nature, play outdoors immersed in green, spend time doing animal husbandry, get to know the different kinds of plants and flowers, and get the chance to pick fruit from a tree, instead of a supermarket shelf. These are only a few of the experiences you can live in a teaching farm: we’ve come to Borso del Grappa to visit Elisa and her animals and to ask her a few questions.
For some years now, Elisa and her uncle have managed a teaching farm surrounded by nature, not far from Bassano del Grappa, in the province of Vicenza.
Hello, Elisa! You’re a very young girl. What made you take up this line of business?
I’ve always been a nature and animal lover. I used to spend my afternoons at my grandparents’, playing with their cats and dogs. As I grew up, I took up horse riding, which I still do when I have some spare time. After high school, I realised that this was my world, and together with my uncle Stefano, we decided to expand his organic farm and turn it into a teaching farm. This would allow us to combine my interest for nature and my love for children with his organic farming business.
What experience do you like to offer to today’s children?
Many children nowadays don’t often have the chance to experience nature or to enjoy all the marvels it has to offer. Our wish is to bring them closer to the farming world in a direct manner, having them do the same chores me and my uncle do. We also try to create awareness in terms of respecting animals and nature. We explain to them how a plant is born and grows, what a piglet or a kid goat needs, all while having fun. This means they get to spend entire days away from screens and video games.
The farm is intended for children between 3 and 10 years of age. I organise summer camps as well as special full-day experiences throughout the year, for instance, during Carnival, Easter, or on national holidays. We offer countless activities. In some cases, children take care of the animals themselves; in others, they help pick fruit and prepare the soil for sowing. During the day there’s always some lab activity involving the farm and its animals. Children love hands-on activities and experiments!
Many children are fearful when they first get to the farm. Sometimes they’re scared of petting the dogs, of coming near a horse… Not to mention the chickens, fearsome beasts that they are! But after just a couple of days, I’m usually glad to see a positive transformation taking place, and their reaction to goats, ponies, dogs and hens changes completely. They’re more relaxed, feeling at home, and always happy, to the point that it’s hard to convince them to go home! I think all children should have the chance to experience something like this; it’s both instructive and fun.
Many thanks to Elisa for taking the time to talk to us! Take a look at these lovely photos to see how she works!