Local food goes back to school

A group of volunteers, including farmers, teachers, a chef and a public health consultant, is trying to make consumers more aware of good food.

The Mid Wales Food and Land Trust operates in Montgomeryshire, but plans to expand its activities into the rest of Powys and the neighbouring counties of Ceredigion and Meirionnydd.

It promotes schoolyard farmers’ markets, runs courses in basic cooking skills, and is working with local schools to promote healthy meals using local produce.

As a direct result one Powys school now gets all its milk, eggs, cheese, beef, lamb, ham and vegetables from five nearby farms.

The trust, which is funded through donations and limited money from educational and environmental agencies, has applied for charitable status.

It is also running the Children, Agriculture, Food and Education (CAFE) project, which involves a programme of farm visits for schoolchildren to learn about food production and the environment.

Planning is also under way to establish community gardens and kitchens where the public can get the rudiments of vegetable production and pick up cooking skills.

Lavinia Vaughan, a farmer’s wife from Llanidloes who also teaches cooking and manufactures organic ready meals, said the first five markets held at rural schools had been hugely successful.

“Around a dozen farmers attended and did good business,” said Mrs Vaughan.

“Parents and other locals get access to excellent quality produce and an opportunity to socialise, while the children learn about real food.”

At Aberhafesp Community School, near Newtown, headmistress Linda Broughall, a trust director, said children had been inspired to make cakes and collect apples and mushrooms to sell at the market.

Caroline Davies, CAFE Project co-ordinator, claimed that it was vitally important to reconnect children, the consumers of the future, with food and the environment.