When we presented the international projects implemented at Grundzale Elementary
School to the parents, especially the “School to Farm” project, farmer Evija Skudra and her family (her children attend our school) were very interested and strongly supported the implementation of such a project and the development of materials.
Here is an interview with Evija Skudra.
1. Please introduce yourself and your farm!
My name is Evija Skudra, I am an organic cattle farmer, and I currently have 70
producing cows on my farm, I have been working for 8 years, together with my
husband and children. It is a family farm or business.
And do you like what you do?
Yes, because if you didn’t like it, you wouldn’t do it. It has to be inside you because you can’t work with an animal if you don’t like it. The animal feels it, and then nothing
And how big is your farm?
We have about 300 hectares of land: part of it is pasture, and then in the trial we also
started to grow cereals so that the animals have their own cereals, and the rest we
make hay or produce silage.
Would you be interested in on-farm training if school children ever came to see?
Yes, that’s the time to do it, because children are more sedentary, on computers and
TVs, and they don’t know what happens in real life, where the milk, the meat,
everything that we consume actually comes from. It would also be interesting for them.
Also in the countryside, not just in the city?
Yes, because it seems that if you live in the country and you don’t have animals and you haven’t seen how it happens, then there is no difference between being a country kid and a city kid.
2. What is your experience of using your farm to educate students?
I don’t have any experience in educating students myself, but we educate and work
with our own children, and children of relatives; there are opportunities to come and
What difficulties might arise in the learning process?
Children might also have difficulties – there are different children: there are those who don’t listen, those who don’t hear, those who are bothered by smells and stenches, but children have to understand that these are animals, this is countryside, this is how it should be, there is mud, there is everything.
The other difficulty might be that the animal might be afraid of children making noise, because animals are not used to strange people, to strange, sudden movements, they usually live in peace, in their own enclosure. If they were to meet strangers on a regular basis, they would be used to it.
There could also be a problem with the parents because they feel that if they have not been there themselves, they would think it is dangerous and they might not let their own in. Safety considerations have to be thought about.
3. Do you think that Latvia is a suitable country for cross-sectoral (agriculture and
It is certainly suitable, as there were agricultural traineeships at the technical school in the past (30 years ago). When I was a kid, we even had internees coming to our farm, working, without having to pay for it.
But now would you be willing to take on an intern?
I was thinking about this just yesterday. There’s a big amount of work with them, you
have to work there, he comes and he doesn’t know anything, because city kids also
come to the technical colleges and they think they’re going to be vets, live in a clinic,
work with little dogs and cats, but he comes and he’s shocked that he has to work with a big animal, he’s scared of cows. But to become a vet, he has to go through everything. The trainees have to be trained; owners of the farm have to be behind them all the time.
Probably I would take an intern, at least something different; we have to teach the new ones somehow.
How will they otherwise find out, if not by working, if we don’t let them on our farm?
It is hard to let go and trust. It always seems that you as a farmer or professional will do it better than trainee, you will do it faster. And you will be responsible. When you take on trainees or new workers, you’re expecting to have to put in the work, and then maybe it will be worth later.
4. The Erasmus+ project “School to Farm” aims to use farms as an ecological and
pedagogical environment for the comprehensive study of STEAM subjects. Do you think this will help to bridge the gap in agricultural knowledge/permaculture etc.?
What advantages could it bring?
Children would probably actually see how it works if they were present or spent an
hour on the farm in the morning when all the work (cleaning, feeding, inspecting) is
done, so they would get a better idea of how farming works, how an animal should be
treated and cared for, how it happens in real life. You just don’t see a beautiful animal in the field, and a milk parcel in the shop. Pupils can see how the milk gets there, how the meat gets on the shelves, how we farmers tame them so that we can work with them normally ourselves.
Thank you for the interview!
BY DACE KALNIŅA
My name is Dace Kalniņa and I am a teacher at a small countryside school – Grundzāle Elementary school – for more than 20 years. I am a teacher of Latvian language and literature and art of theater; I am a librarian and an international project manager. We have implemented already almost 10 international projects, starting with school exchange projects continuing with learning mobilities projects for teachers and now implementing KA220. I am also participant in NGO “Grundzāles skolai”
I am a coordinator of projects connected with youth work. At my free time I play volleyball for already 35 years and I like to travel and be outdoors – work in garden, go skiing, skating, camping, swimming.