Connecting children with where their food comes from is the aim of a major new campaign being launched by Farmers Weekly at this week’s Royal Show at Stoneleigh (Monday 2 July 2007).

Called the “Farmers Weekly Kids Connect Campaign – Feeding children the facts about food”, the campaign aims to encourage farmers to host more school visits and get themselves into the classroom.

“Recent research shows there is a growing awareness of the countryside and the role it plays in young lives – but there are still many misconceptions about farming and food production,” said campaign director Philip Clarke at a launch reception, hosted by supermarket M&S at the Royal Show.

“For example, some kids believe farmers are routinely cruel to their animals, while others perceive them to be unfriendly to outsiders and only interested in money. Our campaign aims to increase the level of contact schoolchildren have with agriculture to dispel these myths.”

Main sponsors for the campaign are The Co-operative Group and Bayer Crop Science.

The Co-operative will be supporting Farmers Weekly’s efforts to help create a database of farmers interested in hosting farm visits during the forthcoming Year of Food and Farming. This will help put teachers and farmers in touch with each other.

Bayer CropScience is also funding unique research into what teachers need from farmers for a farm visit to be a success.

To give the campaign a boost, Farmers Weekly is also running a series of kids’ events at the Royal Show.

A Kids Trail, sponsored by toymaker Britains, involves primary school children following a trail around the showground, getting a special “passport to farming” stamped along the way. Each day three lucky winners will be drawn from a hat to win a selection of Britains farm toys.

Another activity is our innovative Design a Tractor competition with Valtra. Children will get to design and colour in their own tractor outline. The child with the best design will see their artwork painted on to a real Valtra tractor. This will be unveiled at the Farming to Food Show in London in September.

M&S has also sponsored the production of a leaflet setting out the aims of the campaign and the motivation behind it.

Throughout the Kids Connect Campaign, Farmers Weekly will be running a series of articles in the magazine and on FWi giving practical advice to farmers about hosting school visits and featuring farmers who are already doing it – our Kids Connect Heroes.

A designated website – www.kidsconnectcampaign.co.uk – also provides advice to farmers, fun information about farming and links to a special panel where we answer kids’ questions about farming.