Climate change is very topical, with Extinction Rebellion protestors gluing themselves to trains in London and schoolchildren in various parts of the world striking to raise awareness of it. However, in Marlborough College Malaysia, this has long been part of a much wider agenda, informed by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. These are publicly displayed and inform not just the academic curriculum, but the running of the College as an organization. Our pupils, who come from 45 nations, will become leaders of tomorrow’s society, influencing policies and practices throughout the world. We believe that there is no greater contribution to the future wellbeing of global society and its ecology than education, which is why their involvement with Barton Farm, our own college farm, begins here from the age of 3.
Pupils have been involved at every stage of the farm’s development. The Sixth Form created the basic design and are currently involved with a number of discreet projects which include the design of a composter, building low-level potting tables for use by our youngest Nursery children and the sale of harvested produce to parents. All children have the opportunity to contribute to growing and maintaining fruit and vegetables and our boarders take turns to feed and care for our stock of chickens – a tranquil experience at the start and end of each day. Academically, Barton Farm is a stunning resource, complete with an outdoor classroom for learning throughout the whole college; from Pre-Prep pupils studying insects to their older peers who may be engaged in biology, chemistry, geography or business studies.
Our partnership with the not-for-profit organisation, FOLO (Feed Our Loved Ones) has been invaluable for guidance and sourcing a wide variety of plants. Parents have also generously donated plants and pineapple tops. Our completely organic farm currently includes mulberries, bamboo, sugar-cane, pineapples, bananas, aubergines, sweet potato, candle bush, pigeon pea, Sarawak eggplant, tapioca, chillis, cucumber, okra, string beans, pandan and much more, changing in season. As crops are harvested, the Sixth Form hold sales of produce for parents, the proceeds from which are reinvested in the development of Barton Farm.
It has been important to incorporate animals gradually, taking time to introduce our pupils to the responsibilities of caring for them. Currently we have a flock of free range chickens, cared for by our senior boarders, and we are hopeful that some new chicks will join them soon. Plans for expansion include the introduction of a small herd of indigenous goats, rabbits, stocking our lake with fish and possibly some larger animals over time. At Marlborough nothing is impossible.
Barton Farm offers academic enrichment, but also a deeply satisfying practical experience of where food comes from and the effort that is required to grow it. Most importantly, it provides our pupils with a profound and lasting sense of the importance of caring for and improving the environment that sustains us all.