To beaver or not to beaver: fun either way!

To beaver or not to beaver: fun either way!

Castorland, Aiseau-Presles

Whilst the beavers may have left the scene many moons ago, the same can’t be said of visitors who are descending in bigger and bigger numbers upon Castorland, also known as Beaver Farm. This green oasis is a hit with old and young alike. On the itinerary: fun and animals.

From the outside, no child can resist its allure. The beaver farm offers one of the region’s most impressive play areas. Slides, swings, a climbing frame, etc.: there are many different pieces of equipment. “The play area is open every weekend, and people are drawn to it especially in fine weather,” explains Romain Diego, coordinator of this not-for-profit.

Alongside the play area, there is the chance to discover the farm’s animals. Chickens, geese, pigs and horses all occupy the neighbouring barnyards and fields.

Enfant en train de cueillir des pommes
Les enfants cueillent les fruits et récoltent les légumes lors d’animations

Children are invited to come and pick fruit and harvest vegetables during special sessions

The weekend sees many family-friendly activities take place on the farm. Depending on the schedule of events displayed at the entry to the farmhouse, you can feed the animals or practice archery with a supervisor.

Sporting activities and holiday schemes

Beaver Farm also offers a range of group activities, with the possibility to stay overnight. There are about twenty rooms as well as a 100-seater restaurant on the farm’s premises.

There are over a hundred beds available for the public.

From among the activities, sports are particularly popular with teenagers. They can go climbing or try out hoverboards or bikes… “We welcome sports clubs such as the region’s judo club or youth groups spending a year on immersion courses in Belgium. Young people come here to spend time together and reinforce shared values,” he explains.

Enfants en animation
Les groupes de jeunes vivent un moment intense et hors du temps par le sport.

Groups of youngsters enjoy a moment together and can immerse themselves in sport.

The site’s staff can adapt to very different demands for events, often depending on what the target groups wish to do, people aged between 12-26. “We have already organised stag/hen weekends, for example. We have fun putting together tailor-made events for our groups,” he continues.

During the school holidays, this beauty spot also offers holiday projects, which have been very successful. “Over 2000 children, aged between two and a half to 18 years, took part over the summer,” he adds.

Out of the classroom and into nature

Over the course of the school year, the farm also organises residential courses, either with or without overnight accommodation. These stays outside of the classroom are very popular among teachers. “Schools have already booked their stays for the next three years,” he stated.

Moutons qui attendent les enfants
Le week-end, il est possible de nourrir les animaux de la ferme.

Come and feed animals on the farm at the weekend

Schools can choose from approximately thirty activities. The themes are varied: they often have to do with nature, the farm, the vegetable garden but also all periods of history across the board, or even aliens. “Currently, children are learning about the Middle Ages. They are taking part in jousting, castle-building, etc. Another group chose pirates as their theme. They all went on a treasure hunt, with a series of riddles leading them to the treasure.”

Schools have booked their stays as far in advance as 2021

In addition to organised events, Beaver Farm aims to promote independence among young people in line with the objectives of CRACS (Responsible, Active and Critical Citizens who live in Solidarity with others). “We are convinced that children learn through play. For example, during a pizza workshop, we encourage the group to think about where the cheese comes from, how the tomato sauce is made, the effect of yeast on the base, etc. Children find these things out themselves to answer questions and learn about the world around them,” he explains.

A more than packed agenda

Many special occasions are also organised on the site. “We put on evening events for Halloween, an Easter egg hunt and a Christmas market. We work really hard to make the occasion festive and enjoyable.”

Recently, the farm has also been organising a farmers’ market in June with the aim of promoting more responsible attitudes towards consumption. As such, it invited producers from around the region to come and showcase their products. A “zero waste” workshop was also held.

Fille en train de jouer
La plaine de jeux change d’ambiance en fonction des événements.

The play area changes appearance depending on what events are taking place

In the future, the farm is hoping to build a high ropes adventure walkway above the Biesme and a play area for the very youngest visitors. The buildings are also expected to undergo renovation. Also, the idea is to strengthen the local network both with producers as well as with other local organisations such as the CPAS.

ASBL Les Castors CJJM
Rue du Faubourg, 16-18
6250 Aiseau

©Photos/Lou Verschueren