Thursday 10 March 2016

Michael Morpurgo's charity farm celebrates its 40th anniversary

Morpurgo started the farm in the 1970s so that city kids could try country life. Nick Duerden recalls his own week of wonder and wellies

Thursday 3 March 2016

had a lightbulb moment: he and his wife Clare, both increasingly disillusioned schoolteachers, would set up a rural farm somewhere and invite city children to come and stay, and also to work on it.

"We had both been immersed in the countryside while growing up, and valued it tremendously," Morpurgo says. "And we thought it was the right of every child, every urban child in particular, to have a similarly bewitching experience."

The idea remained a flight of idealistic fancy until Clare's father, Allen Lane, the founder of Penguin, died in 1970. Suddenly, she had the means. "And so we decided to put our money where our mouths were," she says. "To take the risk, set up a charity, buy a house in Devon, make a partnership with a real working farm next door, and see what happened."

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