The second annual Kids’ Country Food and Farming event was hailed a success with over 5,500 children from schools across the Eastern region, coming together to learn where food comes from and the importance of agriculture.
Staged at the Peterborough Showground on Friday 11th July, the free one-day event, organised by the East of England Agricultural Society brought together children from 50 different schools as part of its Kids’ Country education programme. The event provided the children with opportunities to experience the excitement and wonder of rural life and farming, with everything from livestock displays to the very latest in farming machinery, and not forgetting crops and food. Supported by key industry educators, the event featured 11 food and farming zones, occupying a quarter of the showground’s 235 acre site, to provide children with a host of interactive farm and food related activities that were fun, educational and memorable.
The showground’s livestock buildings played host to a variety of animals from goats, to Shire horses and foal, to rare breeds and ‘Dancing Sheep.’ At the machinery zone, children witnessed the evolution of farming machinery, from the history of the working horse, to vintage tractors, through to modern day farming vehicles complete with the latest agricultural technologies; the cabs of which they were invited to explore.
Commenting from the event, Iain Erskine, Head Teacher at Fulbridge Academy, who brought 630 students with him, said: “Although we do teach the children about food and farming in the classroom, nothing beats a fully interactive experience where they can see how farming really works first hand. Events like these touch upon all areas of the curriculum, from the science and engineering aspects of farm machinery and food technology, through to the history and geography of agriculture in the UK. Some of the children have never actually seen a horse or a goat in the flesh before, and so the day has really opened their eyes to a whole new world.”
Some of the pupils from Fulbridge Academy added: “We really enjoyed seeing and petting the animals, especially the dogs, and we’ve learned some really cool facts! We learned about how African farmers use fish for fertilizer, and how many eggs a chicken lays in week.”
Through the use of interactive exhibitions from a variety of leading industry suppliers such as British Sugar, Albert Bartlett, Suffolk Mushrooms and Arla, children were able to experience the journey of food from seed to table. Learning how flour is produced, tasting seeds, dabbling in sausage making and getting to grips with how mushrooms grow, in a bid to highlight the importance of agriculture through providing a deeper understanding of food, from field to the fork.
Commenting on the importance of the Kids’ Country Event, Sandra Laurisden, Education Manager at the Peterborough Showground, said: “Events such as these give children the opportunity to learn all about agriculture in the East of England – the ‘nation’s food basket’. Children need to know the provenance of their food and how it is grown, and so events such as these provide a wonderful learning opportunity for them and their teachers alike.
“We are thrilled that so many children attended this year, which is a real testament to how important their schools and teachers think such learning is. We are looking forward to making future events even bigger and better so as to provide a valuable learning experience for as many children as we can.”
A replica African Village, complete with its own school, constructed by visiting students of the Marshal Papworth Fund, was also on display illustrating the differences in farming, food and lifestyle between the UK and African countries.
Peter Musinguzi, a Marshal Papworth Fund long course student, commented on his experience helping to set-up and run the village at the event: “The African village is a highly realistic portrayal of life in rural Africa, where food is grown and bred close to where it is consumed. It has been fantastic to be involved in this event and to help give these children the opportunity to learn about agriculture and farming life in Africa. If you ask many children where their food comes from, they tell you “the supermarket”, so I am hoping that today’s event has shown them how their food is really made; that vegetables come from the soil and that milk, eggs and meat come from animals.”
For more information about the Kids Country Education Programme and Food and Farming Day visit www.eastofengland.co.uk.