Primary schools have this week been involved in one of 2021's most popular events! The Essex Schools Food & Farming Day is an activity-packed campaign that teaches children how food travels from farm-to-fork.
Pupils enjoyed fun, interactive activities. Through the event they have gained a better understanding of the food chain and the role played by farmers in Essex, as well as an awareness of the countryside, environmental issues and healthy eating.
The annual event is organised by the Essex Agricultural Society with support from Essex County Council. Until 2019, organisers welcomed around 3,000 children to a day of interactive learning, hosted in the spacious grounds of Writtle University College near Chelmsford.
The annual event was placed on hold in 2020, and in 2021 moved to an exciting virtual venue. Participating schools have received goody packs to let them safely create hands-on learning opportunities within the classroom.
Annabelle Rout, Chairman of the Steering Group for ESFFD, said: "It is fantastic that we are able to hold an online Essex Schools Food and Farming Day this year despite the COVID pandemic and restrictions. We hope the schools and the children will be able to make the most of the opportunities provided to them in these difficult circumstances. We look forward to seeing photographs of what they have grown and made. We very much hope to be back to normal next year!"
Thirteen exhibitors volunteered to take part, swapping their in-person stalls for fun, educational activities and special products. Children will be growing their own food in planters from VegTrug, creating delicious recipes with flour from Marriage's and much more!
Laura Strathern, co-founder of Fairfields Farm, said: "It's so important for our children to know where their food comes from, and for us to spark in the next generation a love of farming. There's nothing more satisfying than being able to eat what you've grown yourself, so we hope that by providing seed potatoes from Fairfields Farm, they will have a fun and rewarding experience and - who knows - maybe consider a career in agriculture in a few years' time!"
The event's must-visit zones have moved online. The five areas - Crops, Food, Machinery, Livestock and Countryside & Environment - are now part of an interactive virtual experience. Participating companies have been generous with time and resources. Schools can access expert videos on everything from lambing, making sausages and creating a wildlife pond.
Competitions will also return for 2021. Once again, schools will be scavenging recycled materials and accessories to make a scarecrow. Pictures will be judged by organisers and the winning creation will scoop tokens for their school garden. The Wilderness Foundation are also running an amazing competition to create something fun for the environment, such as a wildlife pond, a wormery or even a bug hotel! The winning schools will get to take a class to their fantastic setting in Chatham Green.
The Essex Schools Food & Farming Day 2021 takes place in partnership with Writtle University College and with support of Essex County Council. Cllr Butland, Cabinet Member for Devolution, the Arts, Heritage and Culture said: "We are delighted to see that the annual Essex Schools Food and Farming Day has gone ahead and adapted to the limitations of the current pandemic by taking the event directly out to schools. It is very important that young people in Essex learn about how our food is produced and how best we can care for our environment. This is a fantastic initiative and I would urge as many Essex schools as possible to get involved."
For more information visit www.essexag.co.uk/virtual-event-2021/