THE next generation of countryside custodians experienced a taste of farm life when they visited Keasden Head Farm recently.

A group of home schooled students made the special trip to the Forest of Bowland farm to talk with owner Shelia Mason. have a walk around the farm and learn about animal husbandry and the origins of the food we see on our plates.

The visit was part of Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust’s (YDMT) Green Guardians project which aims to help young people connect and care for nature.

It comes under YDMT’s Green Futures, a programme that inspires and empowers young people in the Yorkshire Dales and surrounding area through a range of environmental opportunities.

YDMT Green Guardian’s project officer, Sarah Deane, added: “The Green Guardians project is open to groups of young people who might not usually have the opportunity to access the Dales landscape.

“It really satisfying to offer them new experiences and help them learn new skills whilst enjoying the peace and quiet the Dales has to offer.

“We’d like to thank Shelia for making the group feel welcome. She is always keen to demonstrate the links between food, farming and caring for nature on her farm.

“We have taken groups there for a number of years and have planted trees to create wildlife corridors. Her hospitality is vital in ensuring our groups connect with the landscape.”

Participant Benji said: “Exploring the farm was really interesting. I love being outside and helping animals and the environment.”

Green Futures is funded through the National Lottery Community Fund and is one of 31 projects which together form Our Bright Future; a UK-wide movement helping young people step up and take what is rightfully theirs: a healthy planet, a thriving economy and a brighter future.

The group examined their ecological impact, how the farm is managed and visited its livestock before helping to maintain hedges later in the day.

It was the last in a series of events which the young people have been undertaking to gain a John Muir Award.

From a day in a Yorkshire Dales woodland learning bushcraft to a two-year apprenticeship in environmental management – Green Futures aims to reach young people from all kinds of backgrounds and inspire them to make a connection to the environment. Its projects give young people the skills, knowledge and support that are hoped will empower them to become environmental activists and leaders of the future.

Led by The Wildlife Trusts it aims to tackle three big challenges facing society today - a lack of social cohesion, a lack of opportunities for young people and vulnerability to climate change.

Green Futures is expected to reach up to 4,000 young people aged 11 to 24 in the Yorkshire Dales and surrounding area over the next four years where young people will be encouraged to create and develop interest in, and connection to

the environment, promoting and supporting practical action developing environmental skills and leadership, as well as creating green mentors and role models in the community.

The exciting part of the project is that it is engaging with groups of young people who are not traditionally connected with the natural environment, providing inspirational experiences and practical skills.

Part of the plans too including working with young people in secondary schools and colleges to promote positive environmental change and practical action, creating Eco-Committees and supporting them towards achieving Green Flag Eco-School status. This project is run by local partner Craven Development Education Centre.

For budding young rangers, there is the provision of regular practical conservation activities for two groups of young people aged 11 to 16 in the North of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. This project is run by local partner Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority

Another beneficial arm to the scheme is the employing and training of 16 young people aged 16 to 24 in environmental management through two-year countryside apprenticeships with local employers.

To date the YDMT charity has helped to deliver inspiring projects worth around £28 million in the Yorkshire Dales and surrounding areas

The Trust has recruited more than 50,000 supporters to date.