Nearly 3,000 primary schoolchildren - and 64 scarecrows - will be visiting the tenth Essex Schools Food and Farming Day!
The Essex Agricultural Society event, hosted at Writtle University College near Chelmsford, and supported by Essex County Council, is being held on Wednesday 7 June.
To celebrate its ten-year anniversary, each attending school has been asked to make a scarecrow, which will be judged on the day. They have been encouraged to use recycled materials and accessories, and the winning creation will scoop prizes for their school garden.
The fun, educational and interactive event has gone from strength to strength in the last decade, giving Year 4, 5 and 6 pupils from across the county the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of farming, food production and the countryside.
The show area is divided into five zones – Machinery, Crops, Livestock, Countryside & Environment and Food – with a host of exhibitors inspiring pupils with their displays, demonstrations and interactive activities.
The aim is to give schoolchildren – some of whom have never visited a farm before – the opportunity to see how the Essex countryside works and meet those people who are responsible for its management and sustainability.
They will be given the opportunity to explore the link between food and farming, meet animals close-up, and get involved in a range of exciting activities. At this year’s event, they will be able to have a go at pressing oils, milling grain and making smoothies; hear the thunderous roar of a combine harvester at a machinery demonstration; see sheep being sheared and find out how farmers are helping to sustain wildlife.
The exhibits are based on links to the National Curriculum, offering an enjoyable and educational experience to pupils, with teachers encouraged to build it into subjects such as Science, History, Citizenship, ICT, Literacy, Art & Design and Geography.
Representatives of the local farming community act as stewards for each school group and Writtle University College staff and students help run the event alongside Essex Agricultural Society volunteers.
Karen Watson, Essex Agricultural Society organiser and school liaison officer, said: "It is very exciting to be hosting our 10th Essex Schools Food and Farming Day, giving children the opportunity to leave the classroom and enjoy this fun, educational event.
“These children are our future consumers and countryside users, and it is important to explain to them how their food is produced, and, as farmers, how we look after the Essex countryside so that it is productive, bio-diverse and beautiful."
Rosemary Padfield, chair of the event’s steering group, said: “Our aim is for the children to gain a greater understanding of how their food reaches the table and the work we as farmers do to protect and nurture the countryside. As the children pass through the five zones at this event, they can see the whole food cycle - from sowing the seed to the plants growing, and the end use in food production.”
Dr Steve Waite, Writtle University College Vice Chancellor, said: “Over the last ten years, the Essex Agricultural Society has helped 30,000 schoolchildren understand how important farming is to their lives and to the county. This is an inspiring event which will hopefully plant the seed about how exciting and fulfilling a career in these industries could be – maybe in ten years time we will be welcoming them again as students on one of our land-based courses here!”
Cllr Simon Walsh, Cabinet Member for Environment and Waste at Essex County Council, which sponsors the event, said: “We are delighted to be supporting such a fantastic event, which gives children an important and often forgotten insight into the journey of their food, from field to fork.
“Agriculture is vital to the Essex economy as it employs thousands and feeds millions. The more we can help children understand, the more chance we have of preserving our rural traditions and landscape for future generations.”