Farmers are being urged to sign up to a distance learning course so they can welcome the public on to their farms and show people where food comes from.
Biotechnology giant Bayer CropScience has teamed up with the Farming and Countryside Education (FACE) organisation to launch the course which shows farmers how they can host educational visits to their farms.
More schools are recognising initiatives such as FACE’s Countryside Educational Visits Accreditation Scheme as the sign of a safe, high-quality farm visit and learning experience.
Until now, however, many producers have been unable to find time to sign up to the scheme because training for farmers who wish to host educational visits has usually been delivered through intensive three-day courses.
Now FACE has launched an online accreditation and learning package so farmers and growers can prepare for the qualification in their own time, from the comfort of their own home and at their own pace.
Bill Graham, FACE head of education, said: “Hopefully, it will encourage more farmers to get involved with their local schools to explain the vital role they play in producing high quality food while caring for the countryside.”
Many children – especially those in larger towns and cities – do not know how food is produced. One recent survey, for example, found that six out of ten youngsters thought potatoes grew on trees.
But the government is keen to bring the classroom into the countryside. The training package has been unveiled seven months before the launch of a Year of Food and Farming this autumn.
Starting in September, a series of national and regional educational activities will help children and young people learn more about how food is grown and produced and how it reaches the consumer.
Mike Tones, the Department for Education’s champion for learning outside the classroom, said the distance learning course would help reassure parents that their children would receive a safe and worthwhile experience.
A DEFRA spokesman said accreditation would ensure visits were worthwhile and enable teachers to choose farms safe in the knowledge that farmers had the right skills to give children an interesting educational experience in a secure environment.
Visit the FACE website for a general overview of the CEVAS distance learning package.