4 January 2002
Schools target of farming campaign

By Adrienne Francis

SCHOOLCHILDREN and teachers are being targeted by rural organisations worried that youngsters know little or nothing about food and farming.

“Outdoor classrooms” on farms can teach children about agriculture as well as other subjects, decision makers at a conference will be told next month.

Nick Stonex, who is helping to organise the Growing Schools event, said farming could teach pupils about anything from physics to food.

One scheme launched at the conference will encourage more teachers to organise farm visits for pupils.

Ian Egginton, of the Access to Farms Partnership, said the Department for Education, was pointing teachers in the direction of farming information.

. Felicity Daniels, of the Womens Food and Farming Union initiative Farming in the Classroom, most teachers had little knowledge of farming.

The number of school visits organised by the programme has almost doubled in three years from 72 to 120 a year, she added.

Even children in grain growing East Anglia – Britains bread basket – know little about farming, according to the Norfolk Farm Education Link.

It is sending information packs to school teachers in villages where children of former town dwellers have little knowledge of how food is produced.

Groundwork, an independent environmental regeneration charity, hopes to boost links between farming and teaching nationally.

It will launch a 40-page Farmlink Report booklet next month to help schools strengthen links with local farms.

The booklet explains how teachers can take pupils around farms safely.

Some pupils fed on a diet of chips and burgers could even receive free food direct from local farms.

The Home-Grown Cereals Authority, which is running Farmhouse Breakfast Week later this month, will serve traditional breakfasts in schools.

Meanwhile, a government healthy eating scheme aimed at school children is being extended to include vegetables.

The 52 million National Schools Fruit Scheme aims to prevent cancer and heart disease among youngsters.

Funded by the National Lottery, it will deliver free portions of fruit and vegetables to pupils in deprived areas.