13.18  Farm Economics Leadership Management

Unit Overview - This unit will enable the learners to develop knowledge, skills and understanding of the social, enterprising aspects of biodynamic farms and gardens in educational and therapeutic settings.  The learner will be able to assess and comment on the financial and social outcomes of a social enterprise in which they have participated.  The learner will reflect on their own capacities in the field of leadership and management.

 

1.1 Discuss the factors which contribute to a social enterprise.

 

To understand the history and context of social enterprise it is essential to note that these are businesses that seek to change to world for the better.  They aim to make a profit, but its what they do with the profits that sets them apart. The idea is that the profits are reinvested into the buisness for the good of the community as a whole.

 

There are numerous social enterprise projects within the Ruskin Mill Trust.  A prominent example would be High Riggs, where the intention is to produce high quality vegetables in a biodynamic context, producing the goods for sale to the public alongside the students who attend Freeman College in a therapeutic manner.

 

In such an enterprise financial sustainability is obviously paramount.  A social enterprise that cannot sustain itself is useless, whatever the quality of its product.

 

There is also an important requirement to meeting social and community needs.  Once again I will use High Riggs as an example, as it operated a veg box scheme throughout the Covid 19 lockdown period and it provided high quality vegetables and fruits to the community.

 

The wonder of the RMT is that is succeeds in providing a therapeutic educational environment for its students at the same time.  There is something very rare and special about this, combining as it does the care and support for the student at the same time as meeting the needs of its external community using a social enterprise business model.

 

Furthermore it is vital not to overlook environmental sustainability in a given operation - as adhering to strong principles in this regard is essential for success.  It would be deeply hypocritical to ignore the impact of an activity on the planet.  This complex mix of factors have led to the definition 'Triple bottom line' - factoring in social, economic, and environmental factors.

 

It is a complex matter to assess the theory and practice of the social enterprise because this would require a deep working knowledge of the whole operation.

 

2.1 Produce a budget for setting up a given operation.

 

The enterprise I will describe was a project making oak tables for the various sites at Ruskin Mill Trust.  This was intended as an exercise in providing outdoor tables for the use of the community, for eating, for talking around and for craft and working purposes.

 

Setting up a new oak table for Freeman College

Building process

Table under construction

 

The experiment was to see if the triple bottom line could be achieved in relation to building durable outdoor furniture for other sites.  This would be an attempt to ensure that social, economic and environmental targets could be achieved whilst working the the therapeutic environment of PSTE with students alongside and learning and participating in the experience.  It would be an experiment in whether net income could win over expenditure.

 

As far as budgeting, revenue, capital is concerned I had a budget for the timber, the construction materials such as fixings and the time needed for completion of the work.

 

Timber

 

5 x 2400x200x50 oak lengths for table top @ £11.00 + VAT each =

4 x 2400x200x50 oak lengths for two seating benches @11.00 + VAT each

3 x 2400x100x100 for table legs @ £12 + VAT each

1 x 2400x100x100 for seating legs @ £12 + VAT each

 

Fixings

100x70 timber fix structural screws £15

65x70 timber fix structural screws £15

Osmo UV blocking varnish £25

Sandiing sheets £5

 

Total Costs for timer inc VAT = £162

Total Costs for fixings etc inc VAT = £60

 

Total Cost of materials £222

Sale target price for colleges £500

Difference £278

 

As far as the above figures are concerned there was no time cost factored in, as students and myself were collaborating and different students were involved at different times.  It takes about 12 hours to make the table and 2 hours to set the table up in its location.

 

Income per table would be £278 and expenditure £222

 

Invoicing and payments were processed through the usual channels at RMT

 

Recording and monitoring took place through purchase orders submitted to RMT

 

To assess the cost of production, sales, margins the figures above can be used.  In terms of social outcomes these are many fold.  For a start one of the principles of RMT is 'Seed to Table' This has a number of potential meanings of course, but the building of a community table is a significant part of bringing people together.  It is also a significant from a PSTE perspective.  It also has value as a utility object for the community to use.

 

Student participation in the build and setup of the table connects them more thoroughly to the wider educational sites of RMT and also builds their responsibility and pride in their work.

 

3.1 Define the relationship between leadership and management

 

Leadership is setting a new direction or vision for a group that they follow, ie: a leader is the spearhead for that new direction. Management controls or directs people/resources in a group according to principles or values that have been established.

 

3.2 Reflect on your own strengths and areas for development in the field of leadership and management.

 

My role has been a combination of leadership and management over the last few years and it is interesting to reflect on strengths and areas for development in both of these areas.  It is probably helpful to break down some of the aspects of these two fields as shown below:

 

Management Tasks

 

Ordering materials

Working to deadlines

Being intimately involved in meeting goals construction goals and pushing others to join in

Managing the myriad of details in regard to animal husbandry and management

Managing the cropping plans for the Horticulture Areas

Organising structures for planning, long term learning plans and medium term.

Using appropriate whole school structures for recording and interventions

Using appropriate whole school structures for safeguarding

Using appropriate structures for Health and Safety and Risk Assessment

 

Leadership

 

Setting the vision and ethos

Understanding the aims of the organisation and my part within its structure.

Setting the tone and expectations for staff members and motivating

Being a key role model for students and staff

Ability to take others in the right direction at the right time

Resilience in the face of adversity

 

One thing I would reflect on is the enormity of the task that I have undertaken over the last four keys amidst a turbulent background.  It has at times been too all consuming and has taken too heavy a toll on my personal life.  There have been times when I have been very close to throwing the towel in.  So a healthy dose of resilience is probably the strength I would point to.  Also experience and ability to work through problems and find good solutions, often when working alone and often when facing with a very challenging environment from both a physical and mental perspective.  Thinking through difficult problems and selecting the correct way forward is very important.

 

A key aspect of leadership, as I have articulated many times throughout this portfolio is role modelling.  The ability to show positive 'can do' characteristics on a day to day level is really important to me and it is an essential part of a student facing individual.  Students can be energised by this and it is a part of what motivates them to help on the farm.

 

3.3 Reflect on the significance of transformative leadership concept for the RMT student

 

For this section I am just going to include a description recently written by a student I have been working with.  I am not including this out of a sense of ego, but out of a sense of how a student has reflected on his own personal growth in relation to the RMT method and in relation to his own transformation.  This was a piece that he wrote as part of a GCSE exam practice response:

 

Q8 write the text for a speech you will give to your peers about an important person in your

life.

 

Today I would like to tell you about someone who has been a positive influence on me during my

time, as a student, at Brantwood school. His name is Jim Hildyard and he is the Head of Outdoor

Learning based at Eyam Edge Farm. He is someone who has enabled me to do some fun and

interesting projects at Eyam Edge Farm over the few years I have known him and as a result, I am

in no doubt, that I have grown as a person.

 

Eyam Edge Farm is an off grid learning facility in the Peak District and is part of Brantwood

School. The site includes a large barn which includes a workshop, a small area of woods, and

enclosures for keeping animals such as sheep, pigs, chickens, and goats.

 

Eyam Edge Farm is one of the highest points of the Peak District, and it has some of the most

extreme weather. During a cold winter the snow piles up making the land unreachable by any car,

and during the summer the heat of the sun beats down onto the exposed fields, with great intensity.

You need to be a robust person to be able to contend with managing the site in all weather

conditions and Jim fits that bill!

 

At Eyam Edge Farm one of the things that is taught to students, like me, is the use of tools for

woodwork and construction. One of my first larger projects there was creating a small partunderground construction. Built down into the ground, with dirt piled over the roof to make it look

like it was dug directly into the side of a hill. This is one of the first larger projects where I was

taught, by Jim, how to use tools such as impact drivers, drills, and saws, accurately and safely.

One of the main tasks with constructing this small building was the roof. Jim is great at identifying

scrap pieces to recycle and reuse and then teach how to alter them to make them into useful building

materials. We used an old piece of scrap conservatory roof as a frame, and then we used many

pieces of wood cut to precise size to fill all the gaps in-between the frame. I was able to reuse the

skills Jim taught me on the next project, building a forge.

 

The idea for forge project came about when Jim encouraged me to do some very primitive style

metalwork. This metalwork was done by creating a fire pit dug into the ground, with a pipe leading

into it for greater airflow and using a piece of scrap metal girder as a makeshift anvil. Being able to

create this primitive forge fire, and then to forge metal into various shapes with the fire pit I had

created, sparked my interest for this kind of metalwork. One of the things that I admire about Jim is

his ability to see projects develop and, as a result of the primitive forge, we went on to build a more

permanent forge at the site. We now have a fantastic forge with drystone walling and a wooden roof

supported by thick logs cemented into the ground, arranged around the circular walls, thanks to

Jim’s vision.

 

The fact that Jim has trusted me to work on many projects like this, using a range of tools and

equipment, has helped me build my confidence and acquire practical skills that I can use forever.

Another key aspect of the Eyam Edge site are the animals. Jim’s enthusiasm for the care and

welfare of the animals has been a really positive influence on me. Jim has taught me how to look

after the pigs, goats, sheep, and chickens that are kept at Eyam Edge Farm. He has taught me the

essentials of animal husbandry, and has done it with passion for the well-being of the animals.

I now have the confidence to look after a wide variety of farm animals thanks to Jim. This was

proven when we had the surprise of piglets being born, whilst Jim was away on holiday, during a

wintery April. When those of us who were at the farm that day saw the piglets we jumped straight

to action. We added more straw into the shelter and patched up as many holes with sheep’s wool as

we could to keep it as warm as possible inside for the piglets. Hopefully Jim was impressed by our

problem solving skills, in his absence, on that occasion!

 

Jim is really passionate about Eyam edge, and his passion is contagious. Despite the freezing

temperatures and gale force winds of Eyam edge, he remains good-humoured and always has a plan

in mind. His unrelenting encouragement has provided me with a strong belief in my own skills and

abilities. I now feel that I can take an idea for a project, solve any problems as I go along and see it

through to completion, and that is thanks to the trust and teaching I have had from Jim.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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© Brantwood Specialist School

Created by Jim Hildyard