At the Educational Farm RhineMain, visitors can learn about and explore local agriculture with a colorful and creative programme for all seasons and age groups.
The Educational Farm RhineMain is a creative extracurricular place to learn about food cultivation and animal husbandry at any time of the year. Opened to the general public in 1999, it aims at a better understanding of local, peri-urban food production and agriculture.
The main activity of the mixed farm (arable crops, cattle, horses, pigs, sheep, chicken) is education. Visitors (school and kindergarden children, tourists) participate in hands-on activities on modern and old cultivation methods. All educational activities are prepared and carried out by the farmers, e.g. the information trail, a walk-in “hamster castle” or the demonstration and project area. With a training room and kitchen, it is well-suited for project-oriented group work.
The Educational Farm was initiated by the local Department for Rural Areas (ALR) to bring agrifood production closer to consumers and is implemented in close cooperation with the farm family. A support association was founded as its organizational structure and it received initial funding from different sources. Continuous support comes from the municipal authorities of Bad Homburg and Frankfurt, and the Regionalpark. As one of the Regionalpark Farm Stations, it is an attraction point on the cicular route, which contributes to its good regional visibility. The established destination adds to the local value chain and tourism sector, brings the farmers an additional income, and lets citizens re-connect to food production.
- Financial: to convert farms (e.g. set-up a class room & teaching kitchen); to continuously support educational activities (e.g. through support association, cooperation with public authorities, other donors)
- training in education for farmer and/or staff
- suitable farm, diverse & mixed stock
Evidence of success
The Educational Farm RhineMain is by now in practice for more than 20 years, with 75.000 visitors overall and many of them returning. It contributes to the social education in the region, gives children (and others) a first-hand experience by a farmer, helps bridging the gap between food producers and consumers in cities, and creates income for the farming family. It thus illustrates how society, policy makers and farmers can join efforts to provide hands-on agrifood education.
- Funding the project (finding members for the support association)
- Finding a suitable farm with a willing farmer
- Monitoring the activities
- COVID-19: on-site education was not possible (interactive online courses or animal livestreams could help)
Potential for learning or transfer
The educational farm practice is of interest to all regions with available and suitable peri-urban farms, and farmers who want to dive into teaching and education. It is a great opportunity to bring urban dwellers and farmers together, and show the importance of local food production as well as entire food systems. The farm should be part of a tourism infrastructure and network in the region, so it is easily accessible for citizens and tourists alike.
It should also be noted that the farmer is spending nearly all of his working hours on teaching, which cannot go into actual farming and food production. To cover these costs, create income and also invest in restructuring the farm in the early days, the farmer cannot rely on the small entrance fees. A supporting association was founded with private persons and institutions who support the ideas and values of the educational farm. Another option would be to hire an external tutor for some or all teaching activities.