For the third year running Writtle College near Chelmsford working in conjunction with Essex Agricultural Society and Essex County Council, will play host to an innovative county event to help children discover more about agriculture, where their food comes from and the countryside.
The Essex Schools Food and Farming Day will be staged on Thursday May 27, with 3,000 primary schoolchildren and 500 teachers and assistants from all over Essex attending. The aim of this fun and educational event is to give children a better understanding of the food chain and the role played by farming in Essex, as well as raising awareness of countryside and environmental issues.
The event will be split into a trail around five zones - machinery, crops, livestock, food and countryside and environment - each of which encompass a key element of the food and farming story. Exhibits, provided by local and regional organisations, will feature hands-on activities including milling wheat and sausage making, cookery demonstrations using local produce, fruit and vegetable identification and tasting, spinning and willow weaving activities, insect and bird recognition games, livestock displays, milking demonstrations and farm machinery demonstrations.
Two hundred farmer stewards have been recruited to guide each group through the various activities, giving pupils direct contact with members of the local food and farming community.
In response to the forthcoming event, Jamie Oliver said recently: “We all know how vital it is to teach children about the importance of good food. One good place to start that education is down on the farm. As an Essex boy I’m really excited by the idea of an Essex Schools Food and Farming day. I hope everyone has a great day.”
Adam Henson, Farmer and TV presenter, at a recent Essex Agricultural Society conference spoke about the importance of attracting "bright, intelligent people who understand precision technology, marketing and other commercial aspects" in addition to important practical knowledge into the industry and encouraged farmers to "climb onto soapboxes and shout about what an amazing business we have!"
Guy Smith, Essex Farmer and chairman of the event steering group, added: “At first glance Essex appears a rather urban county with not much countryside but if you look at the map you can see there is far more green than grey. Essex is important to farming and farming is important to Essex. Essex school children are our future consumers and future countryside users. It is important to explain to young students how and why we, as farmers, go about looking after the Essex countryside so that it is productive, bio-diverse and beautiful.
“It is particularly rewarding that when the Essex Agricultural Society, in partnership with Writtle College and Essex County Council, put on an event like the Essex Schools Food and Farming Day we get such a brilliant response from the schools. We were fully booked within weeks of announcing the event. As farmers we are very proud that non-farmers take such an interest in what we do and want to know more."
County Councillor Peter Martin, Leader of Essex County Council, went on to say: “Essex is an important agricultural county, employing thousands and feeding millions, so it is important that we show children how to understand and preserve this landscape. The Food and Farming Day gives youngsters the opportunity to see first hand how agriculture shapes the countryside, providing us with access to open spaces and recreational activities, which helps us to enjoy healthier lifestyles.”
Reporters and photographers must register to attend this event by 5pm on Monday May 24. For more information, to request photographs or to register, please call Emily Patel, Writtle College, on 01245 424276 or Michael Page, Essex County Council on 01245 438418
For further information about the Essex Schools Food and Farming Day contact the Centre for Environment and Rural Affairs at Writtle College by visiting www.cera.org.uk, emailing email@example.com or calling 01245 424110/4114. A full programme will be available on the website.
Notes for Editors:
Confirmed exhibitors for 2010 are:
• Calcott Hall Farm Shop
• Fairfields Farm Crisps
• Foxes Farm Produce
• L Bartrupt & Sons Ltd
• RHS (School Gardening Campaign)
• Send A Cow
• Tiptree Jam Factory
• W A Church of Bures Ltd
• W H Marriage & Sons Ltd
• Centre for Equine and Animal Science (CEQAS)
• The Sheep Show
• Writtle College Farm
• Writtle College Animal Care Unit
• Kellys Turkeys Ltd
• R Padfield and Son
• Centre for Arts and Design in the Environment (CADE)
• Centre for Environment and Rural Affairs (CERA)
• NFU Food and Farming Roadshow
• Ernest Doe
• Ashlynns Organics
• East Essex Food and Farming Group
• Farming and Countryside Education (FACE)
• Food for Life Partnership
• Jimmy’s Farm- Essex Pig Company
• The Chelmsford Star Co-operative
• Writtle College- School of Horticulture
• Writtle Evening Women’s Institute
• Essex and Suffolk Water
• Essex Wildlife Trust
• Natural England
• Richard Haward Oysters
• West Essex and East Herts Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers
Essex County Council has provided £35,000 to help fund the event as well as offering to assist schools by arranging and procuring transport for school children to and from the Essex Schools Food and Farming Day.
The Essex Agricultural Society is administered by the Centre for Environment and Rural Affairs (CERA) and based at Writtle College. Much of its work is to support and encourage the farming community of Essex by raising the profile of the industry in a number of positive ways.
The Centre for Environment and Rural Affairs (CERA) is responsible for the organisation and logistics of the event. CERA was established in 2002 as a bridge across which the academic expertise of the college could be transferred into practice. The CERA team works closely with academics and students from the agriculture, food, business and conservation disciplines and has extensive experience in managing projects, facilitating networks, and organising events and training courses. CERA is committed to improving the understanding of the food chain and the role played by farming in our region. In addition to the current teaching and research activities conducted through the college, we embark on a number of initiatives to raise awareness of the countryside and environment and to promote careers in food and farming industries.
In support of the event, Writtle College is having a non-teaching day in order to provide exclusive use of the venue, staff and student helpers. Established in 1893, Writtle College has a respected reputation as one of the UK's leading land-based institutions, offering a range of full and part-time diplomas and vocational training, University of Essex Foundation and Honours degrees and Postgraduate programmes. Set in its own 220-hectare estate with landscaped gardens, the college facilities include a working animal unit, equine training and development centre and stud, working farm and sports fields.
Event funders include:
• Essex County Council
• Essex NFU Members Trust
• Felix Cobbold Trust
• Perry Foundation
• Ernest Doe / Ernest Doe Power
• The Co-operative Membership
• The Chelmsford Star Co-operative Society
• Writtle College