25 July 1997

Union aims at 100,000 figure for farm visitors

THE NFU is on target to get more than 100,000 members of the public to visit a farm this year – more than double the number achieved last year.

Children on farm

As part of the Welcome to the Countryside initiative, more than 50,000 children have spent a day on a farm this year. And, to keep them interested in farming for more than just the day of their visit, the NFU launched its Friendly Farm Fun Club on May 23.

More than 2,000 children have already joined, and applications are still pouring in at a rate of about 100 a day, said Simon Rayner, NFU public relations manager.

The club will have seasonal newsletters, highlighting the key activities in the farming calendar, and carrying stories written by the children about their day on a farm.

Last year, about 40,000 people visited farms in England and Wales. That has already been exceeded this year. And with the highest numbers of visits traditionally made during the summer, Mr Rayner was confident that the 100,000-target would be reached.

As well as encouraging children to visit farms, the NFUs education packs for teachers are now in every primary school in England and Wales. They show how farms and agriculture can be used to meet many of the national curriculum targets.

Secondary schools

Mr Rayner added that packs had also been sent to all secondary school head teachers and geography departments. And the next stage was to extend the schools programme to nursery teachers.

About 200 farmers were already involved in opening their farms to children.

But Mr Rayner said there was a growing need to find more, especially those willing to host secondary school visits.

The first lesson in farming for pupils from Lees Brook School, Derby – goats will eat, and obviously wear, anything.