Seven-thousand school children got hands-on experience of the countryside as they followed the journey from field to plate at the Kids Country Food and Farming Day staged at the East of England Showground.
The interactive event, held on Friday 30 June 2017, was organised by the East of England Agricultural Society and sponsored by the Central England Co-operative. It saw pupils and teachers from over 60 schools get the chance to touch and taste various foods, find out more about livestock and working animals, visit an African village, and see the machinery and technology deployed on UK farms – including drones.
This was the fifth time the event has been staged and was the largest held so far. It was attended by schools from Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Leicestershire, Warwickshire, and London, and featured 309 exhibitors from 85 companies offering various activities across 14 learning zones.
Sandra Lauridsen, Kids Country Education Manager, said: “This was a fantastic event, showing just how popular the Kids Country Food and Farming Day is with children and schools across the region and beyond.
“With the support of the Central England Co-op we gave thousands of children the chance to not only understand how farmers produce their food and the journey it takes from field to plate, but to get hands-on experience of farming and the countryside. They have also had direct contact with big names from the food industry who have got involved in the education process, such as Billingsgate Fish Market and Albert Bartlett Potatoes.
“The feedback today from both teachers and children has been fantastic, and I hope they will now go on to talk to their families about food and the choices they make – and play a major part in helping them understand the importance of farming in all of our lives.”
Central England Co-operative Member and Community Relations Officer Karen Ball said: “Everyone involved with Central England Co-operative enjoyed being part of the Food and Farming Day.
“The Co-operative has a long tradition of giving back to the community, and we welcomed the opportunity to make a real difference to the lives and education of local children by talking to them about the history of the co-op, food provenance and the importance of healthy eating.
“After interacting with 7,000 children on the day, we now look forward to growing and cementing the relationships we have created by continuing the work we started on the day by taking it back into schools and the communities in which we serve.”
The event was also attended top British athletes Heather Fell, who won silver in the women’s modern pentathlon at the 2008 summer Olympics, and Laura Sugar, a Paralympic sprinter who won two medals in the 2016 IPC European Athletics Championships.
Heather said: “Having been brought up on a farm I am passionate about the outdoors and our countryside. I learnt so much from farming as a child and it was exciting to share this passion with all of the participants at the Food and Farming Day. I think it is so important to learn about our food and where it comes from in order to make healthy decisions on what to eat. Farming is a significant industry in our country that needs support and understanding.”