A project that uses video calls to connect farmers with children to teach them about food and the environment is celebrating a year of huge success.
Farmer Time saw 9,000 schoolchildren take part in 2019 to learn about where the food on their plate comes from and the crucial role agriculture plays.
The idea, started by Cambridgeshire farmer Tom Martin and co-ordinated by the charity Linking Environment And Farming (Leaf), now has 437 teacher-and-farmer pairings across the UK.
FaceTime or Skype is used to give schoolchildren a front-row view of farmers with their livestock or in their fields and allows them to ask questions from the classroom.
Speaking on the Farmer Time website, Mr Martin said: “This really builds on classroom learning, it directly links to the curriculum and the children are able to ask questions of a farmer or a food producer like myself about what they’ve been learning in class. It is a fantastic resource.”
The sessions in 2019 represented 10,800 learning hours, with the average call lasting 18 minutes and taking place once a fortnight.
The 300 schools and farmers already paired have committed to continue supporting the scheme during the next academic year.
Connect in real time
With issues such as climate change and eating habits dominating the discussion around agriculture, farmers are able to give the children a real-time understanding of the issues they face every day. Of the farmers who took part, 80% focused on the food supply chain in their calls.
NFU education officer Jennie Devine said: “We’re absolutely delighted that the project has been such a great success in highlighting the profile of the farming industry in schools and giving pupils a better understanding of where their food comes from.”
Carl Edwards, director of education and public engagement at Leaf education, said: “We are delighted with the feedback we have received and would urge farmers and schools alike to participate in what has proved to be an enormously successful initiative.”
For more information visit the Farmer Time website.