Last year my daughter Lola and I went to an Easter fun day at the Granja Escuela (English Farm) in Sanlucar La Mayor near Seville. This is a wonderful place in the countryside which works as a bilingual nursery during the week, and has activities at the weekend.
We parked by a field and walked along a track lined with small buildings where children were busily playing and making Easter decorations, and neat rows of vegetables, all organically grown – leeks, spinach, cabbages, beans, onion, broccoli – and herbs. The braying of donkeys and bleating of goats drifted along the path. It felt idyllic and close to nature – no cars, only the noise of animals and children.
Arriving at a shady spot near the main house, we saw a group of small children – the three to six-year-olds (the older children has separate activities). They were standing in a circle, singing a song in English with accompanying gestures, as a warm-up typically used in any English class for children. When they had finished, we all moved to long table lined with chairs, and boxes of craft materials – coloured paper, colouring pens, glue, scissors, all the necessary tools for a morning of creative fun.
The (native English) teacher spoke in English, translating as needed for the smaller ones – I helped a bit too. She explained that they were going to make an Easter bunnies out of plastic plates, cutting off the ears to stick on and drawing the faces. Pink wool was used for the whiskers.
This farm is a glorious place for children, especially those who don’t have any contact with animals normally – they have donkeys, goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits, cows and sheep. The kids can each collect an egg from the chicken house, which was exciting for them. They also pick vegetables to make salads, such as cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and courgettes.
For breakfast, they had a traditional Andalucian meal of bread drizzled with olive oil, washed down with lots of water, after all that excitement. After that, it was time to visit the animals. This was Lola’s favourite part of our visit.
The main house, where the nursery is, feels very homely with lots of agricultural implements and pretty decorations. It had by far the friendliest and least institutional atmosphere I’ve ever come across in a guarderia.
The farm has lots of trees which are typical for this area – orange, lemon, mandarin, olive, as well as vines – and is fragrant with lavender and rosemary. The land has been farmed by the same family for years – this used to be a vineyard, with organic wine being made from 1993 to 1998. Elena Viguera and Julian Navarro then moved to Cazalla de la Sierra, where they produce excellent organic wines under the label Colonias de Galleon. Their Ocnos is an unusual but extremely good dry white wine, with a honeyed flavour – you can buy it at the ecomarket market in Gines. It is their daughter, Sara, who runs the Granja Escuela.
The Granja Escuela Saturday club is from 10.30-1.30pm; they also run Easter, summer and Christmas camps. www.granjaescuela.com Tel 955 710 092 / 670 068 136.