Mud and the occasional heavy downpour did not dampen children’s spirits at an innovative event which helped them discover more about the countryside and the origins of their food.

Essex Schools Food and Farming Day, organised by The Centre for Environment and Rural Affairs on behalf of the Essex Agricultural Society at Writtle College on Thursday (1 May), enabled 3000 Key Stage 2 pupils and their teachers to connect with how their food is produced.

The event – part of the Year of Food and Farming – included hands on demonstrations of milling wheat and producing butter, cookery using local produce, livestock and milking displays, and farm machinery demonstrations.

“Most working Essex farmers, such as myself, realise that today’s children are tomorrow’s consumers and tomorrow’s countryside users,” said steering committee chairman, Guy Smith. “As such, it is important to help them understand where their food comes from and why the countryside looks the way it does.

“There are very few foodstuffs which cannot be grown on Essex farms and the day was a great opportunity for farmers to talk to children about these subjects.”

Lord Hanningfield, leader of Essex County Council, added: “Essex is often stereotyped as a heavily urbanised county, characterised by its proximity to London, but if you look beyond the urban area, you will find a landscape rich in farming.

“Historically, food production in Essex was of great importance, both in feeding the local populace and the nearby city of London. Although the last 100 years have seen changes, Essex remains an important agricultural county employing thousands and feeding millions.”

On the day, each school group was given its own farmer steward to guide them through the various activities, strengthening links between youngsters and the farming community.

The following pictures give a flavour of the day:

YOFF Essex crowd

YOFF Essex bread

YOFF Essex cow

YOFF Essex pig

YOFF Essex owl

YOFF Essex veg

YOFF Essex girl