Suffolk farmers connect with children

A group of Suffolk farmers is entering its third year of hosting school visits in an attempt to improve children’s understanding of how their food is produced.

Hadleigh Farmers’ Agricultural Association has played hosts to over 10 primary schools since 2005, giving local schoolchildren the chance to use their farms as an outdoor classroom.

Worried they were not teachers, the group employed local farmer’s wife Juliet Hawkins to develop seasonal programmes and activities that could be easily adapted to different farms.

After initial ‘taster’ visits, several schools are now returning with requests for visits that target particular aspects of science, design and technology or PHSE – adaptation to habitat, World War II on the farm, trees and woodland.

“Getting plenty of parents along to help is a huge benefit as it’s not only the children who don’t always know what’s what in the countryside,” says Mrs Hawkins.

“It’s amazing how many parents come up at the end of the day to say how much they have learnt alongside their children.  Involving the wider community is good for public relations and helping even rural people understand what’s going on over the seasons.”

Farmer’s daughter Cathy Leney is helping to co-ordinate the initiative. “Activities are really based on each farm producing food and wildlife in a healthy countryside – not just ramming farming statistics down their throats which would be pretty meaningless to small children,” she says.

“Exploring the crops and livestock, alongside the birds and beetles keeps an interesting balance, satisfies the curriculum objectives – and gets them coming back for more.”

The following picture gallery sums up the activities of the Hadleigh Farmers’ Agricultural Association.

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Chris Partridge demonstartes shearing to Kersey schoolchildren.

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Learning outside the classroom at the Partridge’s farm.

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Cathy Leney explains where food comes from to Hintlesham schoolchildren.

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Haymeadow in a matchbox – educational and fun!

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Sproughton primary schoolchildren conduct their own risk assessment.

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Whatfield School on a scavenger hunt.

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Hazel sticks whittled by children at Milden.

For more on our Kids Connect Campain click here

For more on the Year of Food and Farming, click here

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