Couple behind The Patch in Milton Keynes create interactive experiences to encourage kids away from screens

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The owners of a Milton Keynes farm are tackling the effects of screen time on youngsters with ‘good old fashioned fun’.

The Patch MK owners Joe and Ros Gurney have created several interactive and sensory experiences at the farm, including a musical maze, spinning tunnels and anti-gravity rooms.

The couple and their team of farmers aim to encourage youngsters to use their senses and enjoy the simple pleasures of the outdoors.

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The idea was inspired by news that children’s screen time increased by half, between 2020 and 2022, and warnings of overloaded sensory systems leading to decreased focus and poor mental health.

Kids can learn about and play instruments in the music maze.Kids can learn about and play instruments in the music maze.
Kids can learn about and play instruments in the music maze.

Ros said: “We have two children who are eight and 10 so we know how difficult it can be to separate them from their screens. For us, we can just send them out onto the farm where it is safe so The Patch MK is all about opening up our farm for everyone to enjoy.”

Joe said he was particularly proud of the new Labyrinth of Illusions maize maze, which includes a ‘shrinking room’ inspired by the first Charlie and the Chocolate Factory film adaption.

He added: “We also have an anti-gravity room which is a 20ft long room built on a 20-degree tilt and a 9ft vortex spinning tunnel, built in America and shipped over, as well as a 9ft-wide spinning tunnel which gives you the feeling of being turned upside down. However, a lot of the structures you will see in the Maize Mazes are made from old farm machinery and farm materials.”

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And the fun doesn’t stop there. Other family fun and frolics include a bounce on the bale tower and playing with the duck racing machine, or sheltering in the undercover 40ft sandpit. Parents can also relax and enjoy coffee and cake among the wildflowers and sunflowers.

Families can enjoy the wildflower field.Families can enjoy the wildflower field.
Families can enjoy the wildflower field.

Joe added: “We knew we wanted to offer a family day out with a difference and getting kids into the open air and interacting with the countryside around them in our maize mazes and being amongst the flowers gets them using their senses again. It shows them there is a fun life beyond screens all around us and opens their minds to exploration and adventure.”

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