The Museum of English Rural Life explores the history of the English countryside and its people. The museum is free to visit and is one of the best things to do in Reading. Whether on your own or with friends and family, discover our  galleries, research our collections, refresh in our café, browse our shop, or relax in our garden.

We are a part of the University of Reading and work with Reading Museum as the Arts Council England-funded Museums Partnership Reading.

What's on

THE COMMONS: RE-ENCHANTING THE WORLD

Exhibitions

  • July 27, 2021 - January 30
  • Museum opening hours
  • Free

FIELDS

Exhibitions

  • October 1, 2021 - January 31
  • Museum opening hours
  • Free

WINTER FAMILY ACTIVITY PACK

Events and workshops

  • November 28, 2021 - March 20
  • Normal opening times
  • £4

Did you know

...city families used to pick hops on holiday?

Hop picking holidays allowed city families to earn money. Pickers were paid with tokens, which were used in local shops or exchanged for wages.

Did you know

...Elizabethan mattresses were used for both childbirth and corpses?

Mattresses, plaited from sedges, were made to support a mother during childbirth or a corpse after death. After use it would have been burned.

Did you know

...farmers used to sow seeds by fiddle?

Sowing by hand can be slow and inaccurate. Seed drills were developed in the 1800s to sow seeds quickly in a straight line at regular intervals.

Did you know

...Lady Eve Balfour (1898-1990) was one of the earliest organic farmers and co-founded the Soil Association?

Women continue to play a key role in this movement, with organic farms employing significantly more women than chemical farming.

Did you know

...Suttons Seeds invented the seed packet?

The local Reading firm, founded in 1806, popularised paper packets of seeds for gardeners.

Item from the Suttons Sees Ltd. archive collection

Did you know

...villages often used to run their own fire services?

The National Fire Service was only created in 1941.

Did you know

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Our Country Lives - Latest Blog Posts

Our blog explores the people, places and issues of the historic and contemporary English countryside and rural life, uncovering and exploring our collections, the exciting activity around the MERL and the people we with.

Changing Perspectives in the Countryside: Dawood Qureshi

Written by Nicola Minney.

As part of The MERL’s Building Connections project (funded by Arts Council England), we have sought to explore different stories and themes that live within our collection from the history of the English countryside.

As we researched a range of themes and topics—from LGBTQ+ rural experience to the history of migration—it became clear to us that there were many people whose stories, experiences and perspectives had historically gone untold within our collections.

So rather than looking back, we decided to look forward. We reached out to seven people who generously have shared with us their experiences—the good together with the bad—of what it is like to be a person of colour in the countryside: Dr Mya-Rose Craig, Ped Asgarian, Navaratnam ‘Theeb’ Partheeban, Dawood Qureshi, JC Niala, Zakiya McKenzie, and Dr  Anjana Khatwa.

We invited each person to explore our object and archive collections, choose an item to represent them and change the narrative of those objects for the future.

After we spoke with Dr Mya-Rose Craig last week, join us below as we hear from Dawood Qureshi. Learn about Dawood’s experiences of the English countryside, their fantastic passion for conservation, and their commitment to including people and nature together in conversations about caring for the natural world. 

The logo for Changing Perspectives in the Countryside.

Dawood Qureshi

(Pakistani/Portuguese/Indian/British. They/them)

Dawood Qureshi is a Marine Biology BSc student at Portsmouth University. They are a writer, freelance journalist, photographer, wildlife film-maker, artist, activist, conservationist, and podcaster. In early 2021, as part of their role as Ambassador for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Dawood was involved in the ‘Reintroduction and Rewilding Summit 2021 – The Short Haired Bumblebee: First 12 Years’. They have written for organisations such as The Beaver Trust, A Focus On Nature, The Wildlife Trusts, and many blogs and sites.

System change, not climate change. Dawood campaigned at the London Global Day of Action in November 2021.
System change, not climate change. Dawood campaigned at the London Global Day of Action in November 2021.

What is your connection to the countryside?

DAWOOD: Mine’s a bit different to many people’s, I think. I was born and grew up in a very urbanised area of London, the Broadway. I didn’t have a garden growing up; I grew up in a flat above a shop. 

All my nature experiences came from watching documentaries, and these documentaries weren’t focused on the British countryside. They were focused on rainforest, oceans, that sort of thing. That’s where my real interest and passion for wildlife came from.

I was home-schooled until Year 9. My mum would take us to the local park, and that’s where I got my fill of nature. My first experience of travelling to the countryside came after, and I can’t remember exactly where it was, but it was beautiful: fields and fields of very tall grass, and lots of forest.

This photo was taken at RSPB Dungeness, when Dawood met up with someone from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. Together they explored the bees living in the reserve. Notice the one on Dawood's finger!
This photo was taken at RSPB Dungeness, when Dawood met up with someone from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. Together they explored the bees living in the reserve. Notice the one on Dawood’s finger!

We walked around and explored nature and wildlife, and that was my first real experience of the countryside. Seeing these vast areas of nature that I hadn’t known existed before gave me a huge taste for it.

My connection to the countryside can almost be described as fleeting; I go there and then come back into the urban landscape. But I believe our connection to urban nature has been lost. We believe nature can only be found in the countryside, yet it is all around us all the time, and I think there needs to be a greater focus (especially in terms of wildlife documentaries) on British wildlife and, more specifically, British urban wildlife. 

I moved out of London at one point to a more suburban area and we did have a garden, and we had reserves near us that we would visit a lot, so I think that’s another connection to the countryside.

What inspires you about the countryside?

I think it’s that feeling of freedom; of going to the countryside and not being closed in. The sounds are calmer, there’s birdsong everywhere, the wind blowing past you.

I think one of my favourite experiences was walking up onto this very hilly area which overlooked a very deep valley. I was standing up there, it was such a beautiful day, and I thought: ‘this is a real feeling of freedom, a real feeling of being able to let go and reflect in on yourself’. It sounds cliché because a lot of people do say that we reflect and feel free in the countryside, but it’s so true.

The countryside offers huge space to think and reflect. This hill, photographed in our collection, is known as Stony Jump, near Churt, Surrey. (SR OSS PH5/B139)

It’s also that feeling of absolute excitement when you find a new species of insect or flower. I could spend hours upon hours in the countryside, just looking for bugs, species of mammals, that sort of thing, and never getting tired of looking at these places and areas of nature-rich countryside.

When you’re in cities, there’s so much to distract you away from that. It’s brilliant, but when looking for wildlife in cities there’s always a person going past, or a car, or something you’ve got to worry about. But when you’re in the countryside all those worries melt away, and you find yourself a lot more open to exploring for hours on end. And then hay fever hits and you die, if you’re like me!

What do you wish people knew about the English countryside?

I’ve thought about this a lot.

I wish people knew how close we are to it. Obviously, there are issues with driving to the countryside, so for people living in urbanized areas those need to be addressed, but a lot of people do think that it’s so hard to get to, and they think it’s so hard to get out into nature, that they never go at all. Or they leave it to maybe one day a year where they go out to a countryside area.

But when you look at days out, or when you look at mapslike I did when I lived in High Wycombe, looking up the surrounding areayou realise: actually, these places are very close to us. It’s quite easy to get to these areas of countryside, and it’s so much easier to access nature than people do think.

This topographical view of the Chilterns was taken by Eric Guy. As well as photographing vast landscapes, Eric Guy also took photos of very impressive award-winning sheep, just like this one. (MERL P DX289 PH1/555/1-2)

And I wish people knew how less scary these places are. People are terrified of the feeling of being out in an area where there aren’t any roads, directions or signs. Maybe there are lots of bugs, or the odd terrifying cow, or something like that. But people need to know how comfortable it can be to be in nature.

Where is your favourite place to be?

If we’re talking about green spaces, there’s this reserve called College Lake Nature Reserve. It’s really beautiful and I haven’t been there in quite a while since I’ve been at university.

It’s the first and only place I’ve seen lapwings, which is one of my favourite species of birds. It was really incredible to sit in the bird hide and see tons of them come down and feed and interact with the other birds when I’d not even seen one before. It was a really beautiful experience.

Now my favourite place is actually by the coast, the sea. I live in Portsmouth and the sea is 20 minutes away from me. I love being able to travel there so easily, sitting by the water and hearing the ocean. I walk along the beach and find so much wildlife, things many people wouldn’t be able to find. I post all these pictures of tiny little organisms, and people say, ‘I thought there were only stones on that beach!’

In this photo, Dawood is looking for lugworms in sand at a beach.
Here, Dawood is looking for lugworms! These are organisms that burrow into the sand and leave little spirals behind on the surface, very much like earthworms in soil.

It’s all about walking along the beach, looking at the floor, and paying attention to everything around you. I think the sea really helps with that. In my later year of finishing university, when I was very stressed, I’d go to the ocean and find it a very calming atmosphere: something I’d not really realised having grown up in the middle of the UK.

Growing up, areas of countryside and nature for me were farmland, forest, and that sort of thing. Those were the things that calmed me. When I moved to Portsmouth, being able to see the ocean all the time, and being able to interact with that as a marine biologist, has been one of my favourite experiences.

What is your experience of living, working in, and visiting rural areas?

Mostly my experience has been quite positive. I used to do a lot of volunteering when I was younger with College Lake Nature Reserve. I also did some with the Chiltern Rangers as work experience, and was able to see what they did on the ground, which people don’t normally see as conservation work. Oftentimes, when people think of conservation work, they imagine rescuing animals or being on TV. But these people were cutting away verges, pruning things, making sure the local plant life was okay, and checking the reserves for healthiness in terms of the diversity and the ecology. This is the real work that really makes these areas diverse and safe for wildlife. Being involved with this really gave me a view of how the whole process of conservation works, and it made it easier for me to understand other people who work in the sector.

A Chilterns farmer works the land, harvesting wheat with a team of horses. (MERL P DX289 PH2/4/2/4406)

When I look at diversity statements, and when I look at people who work in the sector, I have to very much pay attention to who’s actually working there. Not the people at the top of the corporation or business, not the people who make the policy, but the people who are affected by the policy. It’s been really positive in that sense because I’ve really gotten to know how it works.

When you’re working and volunteering in these places, it also allows you to be really invested in nature and surrounded by it all the time. I still haven’t done something I always wanted to do, which is ringing – where you ring birds. I’d love to do that.

In terms of negative experiences, these have mostly related to diversity and race. Obviously, many countryside spaces are quite cis, white, and middle-class areas. Me coming there and being none of those (well, maybe a bit middle class!) has made me realise that I do stand out quite a lot. Those experiences did cause me to drift away from nature and wildlife, because I didn’t believe I belonged in those areas at all. But came back into it because I realised that if I don’t do it, who’s going to? It really does have to be that push to make that change.

So, really, it’s been a mix of positive and negative. The positive being that nature always draws me back in, but the negative being that it isn’t a very diverse place, and we do have to work on that.

In terms of accessibility, I do remember people who were perhaps in wheelchairs or disabled in areas that are very inaccessible to those kinds of people. We’ve got a long way to go I think, but we will get there because you know how amazing it is to be in nature.

How important is rural community to you?

I think they are incredibly important.

I grew up in urban areas and spend a lot of my time there. I did a small project with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, where I made a video about the short haired bumblebee and its reintroduction to the countryside. That plus a few other projects I’ve done really highlighted the importance of farmers, and the importance of rural communities and people who work in those areas. They really hold up the countryside if you think about it. You can sit in urban areas and make policy and talk about how you’re going to change things and get people out volunteering, but the people who live there and own these areas of land, they’re the people who govern how the wildlife exists. You must work with these farmers and not demonise them for the work they’re doing. That goes for rural communities too.

Farming is hard work physically and mentally, involving long hours in isolated settings. This photograph of a downland shepherd with his flock and trusty sheepdog companion was taken in the Berkshire Downs. (MERL P DX289 PH2/2/311)

For me, as someone who values the countryside and wants to make it more diverse and more ecologically important – right now England’s countryside isn’t the most diverse because it’s been stripped over the years in terms of farming practices, but those farming practices have been governed by supermarkets and big corporations. It’s not the farmers’ fault for having to put food on the table. Without them the ecology of Britain would not exist at all. So, I think rural communities and especially farming communities are really important.

Tell us about your wildlife film making.

My aspiration is to be a wildlife journalist and filmmaker, just trying to tell stories about nature and the environment and tying those in with people. I find that a lot of the time, we’re told that they’re two separate entities, they’re supposed to exist differently, and that doesn’t help anyone, because people and nature lean on each other so much. We’re so intertwined in our existence that it would be impossible to separate the two. And it has been impossible. We’ve not been very progressive in terms of saving the environment because people don’t try to save people. They just try to save the environment. It’s one or the other.

Dawood undertaking conservation work at RSPB Dungeness.
Dawood at RSPB Dungeness.

With the filmmaking, I’m trying to bring the human element to nature. With the countryside, that really needs to happen. The reason that the countryside has been stripped bare and turned into farmland is because people have lost their connection to it. We see nature either as something that produces for us, or something that should be without humans at all. The reality is that it can be all those things, and it can be ecologically diverse. With my writing, I’m trying to intertwine those elements of humanity and nature together and tell a story that will get lots of different people involved.

Which object from our collection did you choose?

I picked this magnifying glass.

This magnifying glass and case is part of a selection of items donated to the museum by the Landscape Institute. It belonged to landscape architect Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe, who used it in his work. (MERL 2019/10)

I had eight or nine of these as a kid and packed them whenever I went into the countryside. My interest in nature started with plants and insects. For both of these, a magnifying glass was essential. When I was a kid I would have wanted one exactly like this!

Insects and plants drew me into the world of very small organisms, so I would always be looking at insects, bugs, and very small plants. That’s what you find in urban environments. Because everything has been so dominated by humans, you often find that nature is very small. Everything big has been kicked out into the countryside.

In looking for these things you get very used to needing a magnifying glass. You know the Sherlock type ones with very thick glass? I had one of those that I picked up from my grandparents. I used it until the lens fell out, and it wasn’t very useful after that!

As I got more used to going around with my bag and various bits and pieces of equipment, ID guides and that sort of thing, the little flip glasses became more useful because you could just put them in your pocket. When I went to my first nature reserve, my first area of countryside, that was really useful. It’s been a while since I used a magnifying glass, because with phones now you can take a picture, take it home, and enlarge it, but I think it might be time to buy a new one! This has gotten me interested in them again.

Find out more

Thank you for reading this second entry of the Changing Perspectives in the Countryside series, and to Dawood for their incredible insights and time.

From this week onwards, we’ll be adding all of our published posts to the Changing Perspectives in the Countryside online exhibition. Read more Changing Perspectives conversations every Thursday, in the online exhibition or right here on our blog. 

If you’re a person of colour interested in sharing with us your experiences, work or life in the English countryside, we would love to hear from you. Please reach out and contact The MERL’s Nicola Minney via email.

Changing Perspectives in the Countryside: Mya-Rose Craig

Written by Nicola Minney.

As part of The MERL’s Building Connections project (funded by Arts Council England), we have sought to explore different stories and themes that live within our collection from the history of the English countryside.

As we researched a range of themes and topics—from LGBTQ+ rural experience to the history of migration—it became clear to us that there were many people whose stories, experiences and perspectives had historically gone untold within our collections.

So rather than looking back, we decided to look forward. We reached out to seven people who generously have shared with us their experiences—the good together with the bad—of what it is like to be a person of colour in the countryside: Dr Mya-Rose Craig, Ped Asgarian, Navaratnam ‘Theeb’ Partheeban, Dawood Qureshi, JC Niala, Zakiya McKenzie, and Dr  Anjana Khatwa.

We invited each person to explore our object and archive collections, choose an item to represent them and change the narrative of those objects for the future. We will be sharing a new blog each week for the next seven weeks in this series: Changing Perspectives in the Countryside.

The logo for Changing Perspectives in the Countryside.

Dr Mya-Rose Craig

(British/Bangladeshi. She/her)

Dr Mya-Rose Craig (AKA Birdgirl) is a prominent birder, naturalist, conservationist, environmentalist, race activist, writer, speaker, and broadcaster. She has written the Birdgirl Blog since January 2014 when she was 11 years old and now has over four million views. Mya-Rose’s passions include birding; nature; stopping climate breakdown; conservation; and preventing species loss, related environmental issues, and racism around the world.

Here, Mya-Rose carried out the most northerly Youth Strike in the Arctic in September 2020 whilst on a Greenpeace expedition! (Credit: Greenpeace)

In February 2020, Mya-Rose became the youngest Briton to be awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science D.Sc. h.c from Bristol University, for her five years of campaigning for diversity in the environmental sector.

In 2015, Mya-Rose created Black2Nature which simultaneously encourages young people from different backgrounds to engage with nature, and tackle access and diversity in the countryside.

What is your connection to the English countryside?

MYA-ROSE: I live in very rural countryside, in a very small village. I have always had a very strong connection to nature and the countryside. In my childhood I would spend lots of time in nature birdwatching, pond-dipping, and climbing trees!

Here, Mya-Rose does a birdwatching walk in the centre of Bristol with a local scout group. (Credit: Oliver Edwards, Photography and Scouting Magazine)

This is how I have ended up where I am now. I started writing my blog, Birdgirl, when I was 11, which was just built off my passion for wildlife, going into nature, and birds (of course). I feel really lucky to do something I love, spending lots of time in nature, talking about the environment, and trying to save wildlife.

What inspires you about the countryside?

Simply put, I love being outdoors and being out in the countryside. I like going to places like Scotland where it is quite barren. The countryside is beautiful, even with the bio-diversity loss we are experiencing.

It's hard to see, but there's a fisherman in this photograph by John Tarlton on the River Einig, a Highland salmon fishing river.
It’s hard to see, but there’s a fisherman in this photograph by John Tarlton on the River Einig, a Highland salmon fishing river. (MERL P TAR PH3/2/10/32/10)

What do you wish people knew about the countryside?

It is becoming very depleted. Today it is difficult to get an idea of what the landscape could or should be and what a desert of biodiversity it really is now. There is a much bigger focus on preserving the pastoral image of the country, when we should also be championing the less glamourous places, like woodlands, bogs, and meres.

This wild peaty swamp, photographed by John Tarlton in Exmoor, is known as The Chains. Areas like this deserve as much attention for their rich habitats as more glamorous ones! (MERL P TAR PH3/2/10/11/9)

Where is your favourite place to be?

I have always loved the Isle of Scilly. It is a really popular place for birders. As a family we never went in the summer; it was always in October when it was cold and rainy! We went every year, and it is beautiful and very popular for birds. Every time I visit it makes me happy.

At the age of 13, in September 2015, Mya-Rose met Sir David Attenborough at the State of Nature launch at Parliament.
At the age of 13, in September 2015, Mya-Rose met Sir David Attenborough at the State of Nature launch at Parliament. (Credit: RSPB)

What is your experience of living/working/visiting rural areas?

Because I am not white, I spend a lot of time doing race activism and campaigning in terms of nature and environment. As someone who grew up in the countryside, I was very aware of the whiteness, and how there was not anyone around who looked like me, both in my village and school, but also when I visited nature reserves.

At the start of the first lockdown, there was a lot of talk about the value of our green spaces, especially when a lot of the inner-city parks were locked. More people started to venture out into the countryside, and it was really exciting for me because I think it is so important to share our nature and countryside. It is also really important for people’s mental health and wellbeing.

How important is rural community to you?

It is really important. I live in an area with a lot of dairy farmers and a lot of kids I went to school with were children of dairy farmers.

One thing I have become aware of is a false dichotomy that has been established between farmers and environmentalists. It is perceived that farmers do not care about the environment and environmentalists do not care about farmers, so I think it is important that we break down these barriers. I have met with people from the Nature Friendly Farming Network, where members have left hedges to grow out and are leaving patches of woodland to promote more biodiversity.

During the long 2020 lockdown, when The MERL was closed for many months, our garden was allowed to grow wild. As we returned, we found a space it was with life, overwhelming the sounds of bees and insects. Ever since this has informed how we continue to look after and care for our garden for the future: both the flowers and plants, and the wildlife that calls it home.

There are issues with rural communities, especially poorer communities, who are not being listened to and are suffering as a consequence. We need to step back from the antagonistic relationship and start working together. This is where the future of regaining our biodiversity will spring from.

Please tell us more about Black2Nature?

It started in 2015 when I was 13, and I had been becoming increasingly aware that there were issues relating to diversity, accessibility and engagement with nature. Around this time, I was organising a nature weekend and I wanted to invite kids like me to spend a weekend sharing our passion for wildlife. I was really disheartened because there was no diversity in the people that signed up and I wanted to do something about it.

I reached out to some kids from inner-city Bristol, from ethnic minority backgrounds, to join me on this weekend. Even then I had people saying that there were groups that ‘just didn’t want to engage with nature’ but I am really pleased to say we proved them wrong.

In 2020, Mya-Rose spoke at the Bristol Youth Strike with Greta Thunberg in front of 40,000 people.
In 2020, Mya-Rose spoke at the Bristol Youth Strike with Greta Thunberg in front of 40,000 people. (Credit: Zoe Brughton)

The next summer I organised a conference which brought big wildlife and environmental organisations together with different communities, who told these organisations what the problems were when it came to accessing the countryside. This was a time when it was still uncomfortable to talk about race and inequalities, especially on a broader scale like this. We did workshops on how to overcome these barriers. And whilst the event was a success, nothing
happened for a long time.

It was really frustrating, because I felt we had given these organisations the answers and still nothing was changing. I set up Black2Nature because I did not want this momentum to slip away. It helps keep pushing the agenda and offer support where it is needed. It was so difficult in the beginning as nobody wanted to talk to me or Black2Nature but since the Black Lives Matter movement, things have finally started moving in the right direction. We are hoping to have a conference this summer which will focus on things like natural history, depending on the COVID-19 situation.

Which object from our collection did you choose?

This white-painted wooden birdcage was purchased from an antiques shop in Reading.
This white-painted wooden birdcage was purchased from an antiques shop in Reading. (MERL 63/102)

I chose this birdcage. The concept of wildlife conservation is so new; it is probably only 100 to 150 years old and objects like this show how our relationship with birds has changed in such a short space of time.

For example, eating wild birds is still normal in some places and highlights a change in Western relationships with nature and conservation.

Humans’ relationships with birds are really interesting, if we look at how birds were used in industrial settings like canaries in mines, or fisherman using various sea birds to figure out where fish are for a more successful catch.

Our huge thanks to Mya-Rose for speaking with us for this series. For our next Changing Perspectives in the Countryside blog, visit The MERL blog again next Thursday.

UPDATE

If you’re a person of colour and interested in sharing with us your experiences, work or life in the English countryside, we would love to hear from you. Please reach out and contact The MERL’s Nicola Minney via email.

 

 

Widening Participation: exploring farming past and future

Written by Adam Lines, The MERL’s Widening Participation Project Officer

This week, the first of seven sessions with pupils from Reading Girls’ School took place at The MERL as part of a student project inspired by the Earthshot Prize.

The Girls’ School pupils have been given a plot of land on the school grounds to cultivate and conserve. At The MERL, we’re supporting this project through a STEM Widening Participation programme, developed in partnership with the school’s teaching staff.

Exploring the museum collections

The first session was centred around the past, present and future of farm cultivation, and the technologies that continue to drive these today.

The first part of the session gave pupils a chance to explore the museum collection. They were divided into two groups which alternated between two activities. One half explored items in the museum galleries, such as a threshing machine and tractor, while the other had the chance to handle museum objects and examine photographs from our archives that showed those objects being used in the past.

A model threshing machine from The MERL collection.
This model threshing machine was made in 1847 by Barrett, Exall & Andrewes of Katesgrove Iron Works, Reading. The machine itself was likely driven by four horses, and the operator stood on the platform. This model was probably made at the same time as the machine was in production. It is designed to be driven by a small clockwork motor. (MERL 51/2)

The pupils were asked to think about what these objects could be and think about what they might have been used for. It was fascinating to hear the students’ thoughts and perceptions, and we could see that they were certainly beginning to appreciate the appreciate the chronology of the development and innovation of farm tools.

Driverless tractors, farming TikTok, and a Wall-E for strawberries

We were then joined by Dr David Rose from the University of Reading’s Department of Agriculture, who gave a presentation about developments in driverless tractors and virtual livestock fences.

Dr David Rose speaking to pupils The Learning Studio
Dr David Rose speaks to the pupils about the future of farming.

Dr Rose showcased a number of videosincluding several TikToksfrom women farmers highlighting a variety of technologies they rely on daily to run their farms.

Pupils then had a chance to play as engineers, designing their own robots for picking strawberries which proved very popular and wonderfully imaginative. 

Pupils' designs for a strawberry-picking robot
Several examples of the pupils’ wonderful designs for a strawberry-picking robot! What would you name it? 

We were really delighted to explore these topics with the Reading Girls’ School students, and it was incredible to see their imaginations come to life as they thought about farming past and future. And, in an incredible turn, so were the Food and Agriculture Organisation (part of the United Nations). Dr Rose shared the girls’ designs with them, and the UN department wrote back to say that they are ‘glad to see how the next generation is already working to solve the food challenges of today, making us in good shape for those of tomorrow’.

We’re looking forward to future sessions, where we’ll be covering topics that include the benefits of trees for the environment, issues of contemporary pollution, and ways of managing sustainable food production and building a resilient future. 

This visit formed part of The MERL’s Widening Participation learning programmes, increasing access to museum collections and experiences in higher education.

If you would like to discover more about our work with schools, or speak with a member of The MERL learning team, then please email the museum’s Widening Participation Project Officer or visit our Widening Participation page.

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@_BCT_ @GoWildForBees Thank you for the very kind words, and for sharing!
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