Getting Back to Basics - The Benefits of Agricultural Living by Jenni Pitwell

Getting Back to Basics - The Benefits of Agricultural Living

by Jenni Pitwell

The dawning of the digital age has improved modern life in countless ways. However, it has also meant that sedentary living has become more prevalent as a result. With the ability to communicate, shop and educate ourselves all at the press of a button, many people find that they spend more of their time indoors than ever before. Whilst convenient, the increasing dominance of technology in our lives has meant that many of us have become disconnected from our environment, and the natural world around us. This can be especially true of the younger generation, and those who have grown up in more urbanized areas, who may have had little opportunity to spend time in nature. Such children may never have had the chance to visit a working farm and might have only seen animals like cows and sheep in books, or on television, and whilst much can be learnt this way, there is nothing that quite compares with experiencing all the wonders of the natural world first hand.
Healthy Living
Sadly, it seems that one of the consequences of spending less time in nature is that people are getting less exercise and paying less care and attention to the nutritional value of the food that they eat. Our country's 'fast-food culture' has meant that many of us have little, or no knowledge of the processes involved with food getting from the farm to our plates. This means that it can become it can be all too easy to become disconnected from what we eat, and forget the importance of a healthy diet. That's why spending time on a working farm can be such an educational experience, for both adults and children alike. It teaches people about the processes involved in meat and dairy production, and highlights the importance of knowing exactly what you're eating and where it comes from. It also teaches children about the importance of treating animals with care and respect. When children begin to understand that the way the animals are treated has a direct effect on their quality of life, and therefore of the food they produce, it can help them to better understand the relationship between how they treat themselves, and the effect it can have on their own health. Promoting the importance of eating a healthy, balanced and varied diet at an early age could help prevent problems such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease, and perhaps even help lessen the increasing strain on our nation's health system.
Reconnecting with Nature
Spending time on a working farm also gives children the opportunity to get out in the fresh air and away from television and computer screens. Children become far more responsive and enthusiastic when they're out of doors, and they're actually able to get involved with tending to the animals and helping crops to grow. The fresh, unpolluted oxygen gets the synapses firing and physical exercise gets the blood pumping and the adrenaline flowing. Adrenaline is known to increase motivation and energy levels, which can help improve reflex speed, concentration levels, and memory function, and so it could even help children to improve their grades in school. Being out in nature and engaging in physical activity also stimulates endorphin release, which are the body's very own 'feel-good' chemicals, and are known to promote a sense of happiness and emotional wellbeing.
Work, Rest & Play
Farm life also teaches children about the value and rewards of hard work. Agricultural living is largely dictated by the seasons; they determine which jobs are done and at what time, and these natural cycles of work, rest and play must be honored in order for any farm to function efficiently. When children see that there's a natural time for everything, they can then better understand the importance of maintaining the same balance of work, rest and play in their own lives, which can help them to become more active and productive as adults.
Whether you live in the countryside or the city, giving children the opportunity to spend time in nature can be beneficial on so many levels, and therefore it's crucial that we engage them and nurture their love of nature from an early age. Experiencing life on a working farm is a fantastic way of showing children just how much can be achieved when communities unite together in a common cause, and can become a vital tool in improving their health, education and even cognitive development. By teaching our children about the importance of preserving our environment, and getting them excited about the simple pleasures of pastoral living, we are not only ensuring the survival of our country's agricultural heritage, but we are also inspiring the next generation of farmers to come.

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