School farms 'important' in building children's passion about farming

Adam Henson, TV presenter and Director of Cotswold Farm Park, spoke at the conference
Adam Henson, TV presenter and Director of Cotswold Farm Park, spoke at the conference

A conference has said that the future of agriculture and food production lies with young people, and that 'school farms' are important in building up passion.

The School Farms Network Conference held at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester last week (30 June – 1 July 2017), said student progression to higher education and career outcomes is important for the future of the agri-food industry.

Attended by 100 teachers and students, the conference was seen as an opportunity for those passionate about school-based farm learning and developing pathways to higher education to share knowledge and expertise.

The conference explored the role of rearing farm livestock in schools, and the value of land-based education, including the areas of agriculture, business, technology, food security, and the environment.

Young people are interested in where their food comes from, and the food supply chain - so the need to promote career opportunities in food and agriculture is vital, the conference heard.

Passionate about farming

The conference also heard how school farms can help students to become passionate about animals and farming practices.

There are now more than 116 school farms in the UK.

A dairy farm in Worcestershire took the initiative to bring children onto a farm. It hosts learning visits for youngsters which has led to new outdoor classroom after receiving a £23,000 business grant.

The event was also told how school farms are able to build student confidence and improve their academic performance.

Teaching children about agriculture has always required some form of innovation to get them interested.

The National Farmers' Union launched an education roadshow - the Discovery Barn - to enthuse children to learn about agriculture and where their food comes from.

The Discovery Barn, a mobile trailer, combines games and facts for primary school children to learn on their own without teachers or assistance.