On Sunday 7th April, Husayni Madrasah staff, students and parents set out to the village of Hampton Gay in Oxfordshire to the UK’s first Halal farm: Willowbrook. We were greeted by Lutfi Radwan, who established the farm with his wife Ruby, to provided truly Halal food for their family. Our day began with a tour as we were introduced to the idea of responsible stewardship of the land. We met some chicks and hens and learned how the breed kept at Willowbrook was different to commercially available chicken. In the sheep field, those lambs that had been bottle-fed in past years were eagerly awaiting at the fence. We also met their alpaca guards Barak Ollama and Al Cappucino! Our younger students broke away from the main group to enjoy an egg hunt in the wonderful woodland adventure park, whilst the older students continued around the farm through the new woodland area, learning how the Willowbrook team plants and manages their trees to ensure there is always a crop for fodder, and timber available for their wood-burning heating system.
Returning to the bottom of the farm, we passed by the vegetable patch and compost toilets: a truly zero waste ambition that recycles our waste to make compost for the crops! I’m not sure if everyone will go home and install one, but hopefully all could agree, after using them, that they were pong-free and straightforward to use.
Time to get hands-on with animal petting in the menagerie, where we met various breeds of hen and the personality-filled pygmy goats. There was the chance to groom Grace, the farm horse, as well as paint eggs and take a look at beehive building and willow fence weaving. Everyone was delighted when feeding time for the bottle-fed spring lambs began: these adorable creatures definitely won the hearts of all! The adults enjoyed the chance to browse and purchase meat, local honey and ethically sourced Palestinian goods at the farm shop.
Our final stop in the tour was the Radwan home and orchard: a beautiful and hand-built cob farmhouse with a separate boiler room whose roof was solar panel tiled. Lutfi asked us to continue to consider three things throughout our lives: where our food comes from, where our energy comes from, and what happens to our waste? I’m sure these questions, and all that we saw and heard about at the farm, will continue to inspire our children (and adults!) into the future.Click here to change this text