When the Royal Show opens its gates for its new Thursday-to-Sunday format (4-6 July) it will be more than the days that have changed as the UK’s flagship agricultural event puts education, alternative energy and estate management at the top of its 2008 agenda.

Royal Show 2008 is making a massive effort to connect the nation’s school children with the real world of farming and food production.

With 4000 school children making the annual visit to the Royal Show at Stoneleigh, it is good news that the big national supermarkets are putting aside competition to support and sponsor the Show’s Education Trail and associated initiatives.

“The Royal Show is tailor made to promote the industry to the next generation of consumers. Everything is covered. We traditionally stage the nation’s biggest display of livestock. The Food Hall and Farmers Market makes the link to consumers while special features on countryside conservation, alternative energy, water management and livestock exports demonstrate just how the economics of rural England work. The Royal has the potential to be the nation’s biggest rural classroom,” said show director, Simon Frere-Cook.

The 2008 event comes at the end of the Year of Food and Farming, in which Royal Show organisers, the Royal Agricultural Society of England, have taken a central role – hosting a number of events and managing the national budget. The Royal Show will provide a launch pad for the legacy of YFF, a continuing stimulus to bring education and farming closer together.

“That is a real and positive contribution the show can make to farming’s success. Our strong role in education is a clear demonstration of how the event has changed over the years, but still retains a relevance to the commercial world of farming and the food chain.

Royal-show-2

“We are particularly delighted that the supermarkets are so active in supporting the Education Trail and Children’s Farming Village. Their presence in that area and the main body of the show itself underlines the market focus that farming has to have to succeed in 21st century Britain,” said Simon.

The debate on alternative energy will also be high on the Royal Show agenda. The Energy and Sustainability Park – a hectare of the show ground dedicated to the whole alternative energy debate – will provide information on how farmers can get involved in all types of energy production. It will feature an Information Bar with experts on hand to provide guidance for anyone considering diversifying into the sector.

But while keeping its eyes firmly focused on the future of the industry, the Royal Agricultural Society of England, the show organiser, is also proud of its heritage. At this year’s event RASE will celebrate 50 years of the Bledisloe Gold Medal for Landowners – the nation’s premier award for estate management – with a special feature.

Many of the estates that have been Bledisloe recipients over the years have accepted the Society’s invitation to take part in a special celebration of the award. The exhibition, which is jointly sponsored by the CLA, Lycetts and Smiths Gore, will not only look back at the history of the Bledisloe Medal, but will, through a range of individual case studies, look at how estates are managing the challenge of surviving in 21st century England.

Past, present and future – all will be part of an energetic and innovative Royal Show at Stoneleigh in 2008. For your advance tickets or for more information about the event go to www.royalshow.org.uk

Royal is great for students

The role of the Royal Show in stimulating the minds of the next generation of farmers, rural scientist and just better informed consumers is not lost on school teachers. Each year more than 4000 school children make the trip to Stoneleigh and they get much more than just a good day out.

Curriculum choices facing students studying for GCE, A levels and the soon-to-be-introduced National Diplomas, all feature the issues that are facing agriculture on a daily basis.

Science teacher, Ruth Peterson, is preparing to bring 60 16 to 17-year-olds to Stoneleigh from the Thomas Alleyne High School at Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, and is convince that they will get a huge amount from the day.

“Students taking GCE and A level exams in general science, environmental and rural sciences all have to have strong working knowledge of key farming issues. Topics such as intensive farming, the survival and role of rare breeds, the differences that determine the characteristics of a dairy or a beef animal, the development of alternative energies, land use and conservation, the ethics of farming and how you set up sustainable rural businesses – these are on their agenda as well.

“The Royal Show provides an excellent opportunity for students see positive presentations about farming, to ask searching questions.”