Educating and engaging with young people about farming is vital for both their futures and that of British farming. This June, LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) is calling on farmers to get involved in Open Farm School Days to inform and inspire the next generation about farming and all it delivers.
Running throughout June, the nationwide initiative aims to get children and young people out onto farms and learning about where their food comes from, how it is grown and meeting the farmers who produce it. From how farmers grow crops for food, clothes and medicine, conserve energy and protect precious resources like soil and water, to how and why they use science and technology to farm sustainably and all they do to care for wildlife and the environment.
LEAF Director of Education and Public Engagement, Carl Edwards explains: “Society needs individuals who are armed with the ability to make informed decisions about food and its production. We also want British farming and the countryside to thrive and know that public understanding begins with good learning experiences out on farms at an early age. LEAF Open Farm School Days provides exactly this – an opportunity for children and young people to experience farming at first hand and learn about its impact on their daily lives and the world around them.”
Poultry farmers, Nick and Claire Bragg from Frogmary Farm in Somerset regularly open up their farm for LEAF Open Farm School Days; teaching children about farming and healthy food by promoting the food they produce on-farm. The farm has a specially designed broiler house which includes a viewing area that allows the children (and their teachers and helpers) to see just how the chicken they eat is reared.
Nick Bragg said: “As members of LEAF we are passionate about informing and educating the general public and school children about farming and healthy eating by promoting the food we produce.”
To support the initiative, LEAF offers free support and resources to help farmers put on engaging school visits, including a comprehensive handbook packed with advice on planning and managing a visit and links to other useful information. A set of ‘Science on the Farm’ posters, developed with support from the BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council) is also available which cover topics such as soil science, water, biodiversity and grassland management. Supporting notes to accompany the posters, for use by both farmers and teachers, include activity ideas for events and guidance on how best to use the posters – both in and outside the classroom.
Annabel Shackleton, LEAF Open Farm Sunday manager added: “Farms provide amazingly rich and diverse learning experiences. We want farmers to open up, share their farms with the consumers of tomorrow and enthuse them about the world of farming. Farmers who already host school visits are encouraged to sign up as well as farmers who are planning to in the future. All registered farmers receive lots of free support and help and are promoted on our interactive schools’ map for teachers looking for farms to visit.”
To find out more about LEAF Open Farm School Days and how to sign up, visit www.farmsunday.org.