Scarecrows, taste-testing, birds of prey and sheep shearing – the twelfth Essex Schools Food and Farming Day has been an unforgettable event!
On June 5th, 3,000 children travelled to Writtle University College to learn more about their food’s journey from farm to fork. The hands-on activity day was organised by Essex Agricultural Society with financial support from Chelmsford City Council.
Pupils aged eight to eleven arrived from more than 60 primary schools throughout the Essex area. Accompanied by their teachers, they saw, tasted, touched and heard about the exciting work taking place within agriculture.
Their first step was to place their handiwork on display; each school was invited to contribute a scarecrow for the Food & Farming Day’s annual competition. The standard of work was high with entries including an eco-superhero and a giant carrot. Birch Church of England (Voluntary Aided) Primary School scooped up first place, with Great Leighs Primary School coming second and Writtle Junior School achieving third position.
The children then moved between five different zones: Countryside and Environment, Crops, Livestock, Food, and Machinery. Viewed together, they represented the whole food cycle from sowing the seed to growing plants and the use of crops in food production.
Exhibitors from more than 40 charities and businesses donated their time to make the day a success with fun, educational exhibits. For some children, this was their first chance to learn more about the countryside and the crucial role played by farmers. They were treated to a range of hands-on sessions including handling grains, meeting animals and getting a good look at a combine harvester.
Darren Bretton, a teacher from Westlands School, Chelmsford, said: “In today's society children are not exposed to the local environment like I was as a child. Growing up surrounded by farmland and having a farm labourer for a father, I know where my food comes from.
“The Essex Schools Food & Farming Day provided an amazing opportunity for our children to see first-hand the processes involved in food production. The many interactive exhibits manned by real farmers and food producers really helped the children understand the journey from field to fork. This event added to our pupils' science capital by allowing them to become immersed in the world just beyond the garden gate.”
All zones and accompanying marquees were erected on Writtle University College’s spacious, green campus. Vice-Chancellor Professor Tim Middleton said: “We’re proud to have hosted The Essex Schools Food & Farming Day for the Essex Agricultural Society. It’s a fantastic way to showcase the important role played by agricultural businesses in sustainable food production. The children have shown real enthusiasm to learn and engage with the exhibits.”
Children were introduced to some of the fascinating jobs and industries connected to the agricultural sector. They discovered how popular jams are made, could try on a bee suit and learnt about insects, birds and livestock. Interactive workshops increased their knowledge of the countryside, healthy eating and environmental issues.
Rosemary Padfield, Chair of the Essex Schools Food & Farming Day Steering Group said: "The day has been a great success. The full spectrum of the agricultural community came together to further the important work of the Essex Agricultural Society in educating our next generation about the journey their food takes to get from field to fork. We are already looking forward to 2020 and developing the event starting tomorrow and would encourage anyone interested in attending, exhibiting or supporting the day to get in touch!"