11 September 1998

Farming Kids

Weekly hits playgrounds

A NEW term means new challenges: New schools, new classes, new teachers, new subjects, and for many youngsters it will bring new food and farming challenges – projects initiated by businesses or organisations for competitions organised by agricultural societies.

This initiative has been running for more than 10 years and through it young people are tackling real food, farming and countryside problems. For example, investigating the potential of lime produced in the sugar beet production process; finding alternative uses for straw and researching and producing new bread products were three of the challenges featured in a Great Yorkshire Show final.

Finalists in the midlands challenge area present their work at the Royal Show. The 1998 winner in the over-16 years category was Lawrence Sherrif/Rugby High School. These pupils had tackled a bug-eat-bug challenge set by Horticultural Research International to prepare an educational pack for schools on biological pest control. They will be competing again next week, this time in the National Food and Farming Challenge on the Cranfield Campus at Silsoe.

&#42 Birmingham winner

King Edwards Camphill School for Girls, Birmingham, was the midlands area junior class winner with a challenge set by Severn Trent Water. This was another educational project, teaching young children about the need to save water. This school also won the award for the best presentation.

Among the highly commended entries was the work carried out by the year 10 rural science team from Bicester Community College, Bicester, Oxon, who accepted the challenge set by FARMERS WEEKLY to produce a newspaper for children which reflects current rural issues.

They decided to aim their publication – which they called Farming Kids Weekly – at a much younger age group and include colouring pages and puzzles along with the articles and survey reports to make learning fun. Each month we received an update from the class outlining progress.

Besides preparing material for publication, which included an interview with a former college pupil who had a job on a small farm, they canvassed local businesses to see whether they would place free advertisements and make donations towards production costs. They also contacted local primary schools about a competition they were running and to spur them into buying copies.

&#42 Administration

The team worked out page and cover design and discovered that in addition to the obvious jobs of going out to meet people, interviewing and taking photographs, much administrative work goes into producing a journal.

Three FW staff members visited the school on separate occasions and everyone involved felt that the project was thoroughly worthwhile. The groups teacher, Sandra Higgs, said it had fired the youngsters imagination and given them a boost.

The challenge could have been tackled in several ways and has been re-submitted for 1998/9. We hope it will be taken up.

Ann Rogers