Farmwise Devon expands to reach more children and teachers

Squeezing juice at Farmwise Devon 2017Squeezing juice at Farmwise Devon 2017

Posted on: 12 October 2017

Two randomly selected Devon teachers attending this year’s Farmwise Devon event at Westpoint, Exeter, have won free places to take part in the campaign’s first teacher training programme on food and farming.

1,400 children from 32 schools attended this week’s event, sponsored by Mole Valley Farmers. Children were taken on a journey from field to fork, enjoying practical and hands on tasks through 12 educational zones including Beef, Fruit, Forestry, Dairy and Arable.

Farmwise Devon educates primary school children about where good food comes from. Now in its fifth year, the programme has reached around 18,900 children across Devon at its October events and at the last three Devon County Shows.

Now it’s spreading its message further, launching a dedicated training course for teachers, to start in Spring 2018.

Outgoing Farmwise Chairman, John Lee said:

“We’re giving teachers and schools resources to take Farmwise into the classroom so that its messages will live on throughout the year.”

Year six teacher, Alan Rogers from Kentisbeare Church of England Primary School, and year two teacher, Ann Piggott from Plymouth College, were the two lucky winners.

Kentisbeare run an outdoor learning programme, which makes the most of the school’s rural location. Mr Rogers says the training place will help expand on this teaching programme.

“Being in a rural setting, there are a number of kids that live on farms or know friends with farms. It’s about having an understanding and awareness and respect for where they live,” he said.

Food and Farming is also a regular topic at Plymouth College, where Mrs Piggott has taken children on numerous farm visits and provided practical tasks in the classroom, such as making butter. The Farmwise events have been an important extension to the College’s work in the classroom.

“The kids are really interested in it and there’s lots of hands on stuff that they can do, and it covers a lot of science processes,” she said.

Ann is keen to extend her knowledge, using her free place on the training programme.

“I’m quite excited. It should give me another dimension on what I can talk about with the children,” she said.

Children attending this October’s Farmwise event got to get their hands dirty in numerous activities including planting potatoes, making pies and milking a pretend cow.

Nine year old Maple from Cornwood Church of England Primary, Ivybridge, said:

“We went to visit the cows and chickens and then we went to the pigs and we saw a dead pig and the types of the body (a pork carcass with the cuts of meat marked). I knew where bacon came from already. I didn’t mind the dead pig.”

Ten Devon County Council tenant farmers, with Bicton College students and members of the Young Farmers Club, were on hand to explain all aspects of farming.

Chairman of Devon Young Farmers Club, Claire Bellew said events like Farmwise Devon are vital to communicate positive message around farming. Claire said:

“The main thing is to educate the public on where their food comes from. As young farmers, we are involved with food and the rural environment. It is a chance to talk to young people before they make career choices. And at this age, it’s ideal as they’re so enthusiastic and excited.”

The event is run by Devon County Council and sponsored by Mole Valley Farmers, together with Devon Norse, Dartington Cattle Breeding Trust, The Devon Farmers Benevolent Fund, NPS SW and Hele’s Educational Trust.

It’s also supported by the Devon County Agricultural Association, Bicton College, and Devon Young Farmers Club.

Cllr Caroline Chugg, Chairman of Devon County Council’s Farms Estate said the event helped bridge the gap between the farmer and consumer.

“This is one of the most important days we get to promote farming and agriculture to both urban and rural children to give them knowledge of how food is produced. If you inspire the kids here, you don’t know if they will get into agriculture. We’ve got many tenants here on the stands helping to promote what they do. The tenants are one of the main stays of the event.”

1 comment on “Farmwise Devon expands to reach more children and teachers

  1. Deborah Ayre says:

    I was unable to attend this fantastic event, but heard from a third party what a brilliant opportunity it is to show Devon’s youngsters more about where their food comes from and some of what it takes to get it to their tables.

    Huge thanks should go to all the sponsors, and particularly those from the food and farming community who put a great deal of hard work and time into showcasing this vital part of what makes Devon so special.

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