helen Carless with bursary winners 2014The Melplash Agricultural Society believes passionately that it is vitally important for the ‘next generation’ to understand the role that farming and agriculture play in the local economy and environment. At a time of great technological change, the Society wishes to inspire the younger generation to take up careers in this exciting industry, not only in farming but also other rural industries.

Discover Farming Website…



The project started ten years ago with a bursary scheme to support students entering or continuing in further education. This scheme has been very successful and in 2014, thirteen awards were made. Now the Society is widening its work to include both primary and secondary school children.


For the first time in 2015, the Melplash Agricultural Show will feature a dedicated Discover Farming area with interactive demonstrations where children of all ages can get hands-on experience of a variety of ‘farm to food’ activities. Those making career choices will be able to drive a simulator tractor or even work a drone of the kind used to inspect crops, and look at the latest apps used in farming. Younger children can be more hands-on including, butter making, breadmaking and juicing apples: they might even be able to calve a cow!

dairy cows 1 (3)Around the show ground, and flagged by Discover Farming signs there will be numerous other exhibits and demonstrations including, milking, sheep shearing, horseshoeing, cheese making and sausage making all linked by a Discover Farming path. On the route, and placed near points of key agricultural interest, will be a number of story boards about farming which will provide the answers to a competition with great cash prizes for the under 12s.  Click here to download a copy of the quiz and trail map. For young people considering a career in Agriculture, there will be the opportunity to meet and discuss further education options with specialists from Kingston Maurward College and with some of the Society’s recent bursary students in the Discover Farming Marquee.


At the Society’s Hedge Laying and Ploughing Match in September, for those that are 13 or over, there will be the opportunity to ride on a tractor whilst ploughing, and for those aged 16 or over the opportunity to try their hand at ploughing a furrow. To create some fun for the younger children there will be a scarecrow competition aimed to explain the growing cycle of seed to harvest.

The Discover Farming Centre run by the Melplash Agricultural Society.

Simon Holland of Washingpool Farm pictured with Society Directors George Streatfeild and Marcus Beresford
Simon Holland of Washingpool Farm pictured with Society Directors George Streatfeild and Marcus Beresford

The aim of the project is to set up and operate the Discover Farming Educational Centre at Washingpool Farm just outside Bridport.  This will host funded visits from the area’s Primary and Secondary schools.  The visits will aim to educate children about food, farming and the environment.  In particular, the visits will demonstrate the linkage between healthy eating, the value of home cooking, fresh food and farm production. They will also illustrate the importance of farming and agriculture to the local economy and environment.  The cost of the visits will be subsidised by the Society for schools within a 12 mile radius of Melplash Church.

The Objectives of the Project

  • To improve the knowledge and understanding of food, farming and the environment in successive annual cohorts of local children and young children.
  • Create a generation who will understand better how to feed themselves and their families more healthily and more economically.
  • Build a generation that will be more inclined to make their careers in farming, agriculture and related industries.

Throughout the year, Simon and Vicky Holland of Washingpool Farm (located at DT6 5HP www.washingpoolfarm.co.uk)  will be hosting school visits where children will see ‘up close and personal’ a number of farm activities and animals.  To book a visit at Washingpool Farm please click here to complete a booking form.


The Society is indebted to our many kind sponsors for helping us to deliver this programme, in particular we would like to thank the Alice Ellen Cooper Dean Foundation, Mole Valley Farmers Ltd, Dorset County Council, and Bridport Town Council. Our most grateful thank goes out to them all.


If you would like to discuss how you could get involved or have ideas about how we can develop this initiative further please contact the show office.  This really is an exciting development that we wish to share with everyone.