Farmer Time school initiative expands during pandemic

The ‘Farmer Time’ initiative, which links farms to schools via digital channels, almost doubled the number of children it reached in the 2019/20 academic year compared with the previous year. 

Since its launch in 2017, 524 schools and farms have been paired, with 15,720 children of school age reached, connecting those young people with farming and food production, according to Leaf Education.

The charity’s 2020 impact report showed 100% of farmers and teachers who took part enjoyed the experience.

See also: Coronavirus forces cancellation of Open Farm Sunday

The latest data also reveals 96% of teachers believe children gained a better understanding of the food supply chain as a result.

“We are delighted to see the incredible impact Farmer Time is having on educating, inspiring and engaging children with farming, how their food is grown and where it comes from,” said Carl Edwards, director of education and public engagement at Leaf Education.

“It is fantastic to see that, despite the challenges schools faced during the summer term due to the impact of coronavirus, many of our Farmer Time school/farmer pairings continued to thrive – both with key workers’ children and those being homeschooled.

“During these months, when opportunities to visit farms have been curtailed, providing opportunities for our young people to speak to a farmer directly, ask questions and see the realities of farm life in a safe way has never been more important.”

Children at Washingborough Academy

© Leaf

The initiative – run by Leaf Education in collaboration with its founder, Cambridgeshire farmer Tom Martin – enables children who may not normally get a chance to access the countryside to experience the sights and sounds of farming.

Supported by Sainsbury’s, Strutt & Parker and G’s Fresh, it enables pupils to regularly chat live with their matched farmer from their classrooms through a video call platform such as FaceTime or Skype.

“There has never been a more crucial time for us to engage and inspire future generations about the role farming plays in the food we eat,” added Mr Edwards.

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