National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

Food, farming and the countryside education – mutual benefits for all

Connecting children with the land that sustains us all and spreading positive messages about food, farming and the countryside are becoming increasingly important.

Many children do not have opportunity to see, feel, touch, explore or learn about farming and the countryside. There are various ways that farmers could become involved to help others learn and to share our experiences. 

There are a number of dedicated organisations and charities that work to support farmers to help schoolchildren and teachers to learn about food, farming and land management in a curriculum-specific way, either on-farm or through various learning resources. 

Outdoor learning is beneficial and enjoyable for all involved, but it’s important to have all the necessary planning, support, resources, advice and compliance in place so that everyone involved feels confident. The organisations below are experts in this field and can help facilitate and co-ordinate farm visits, outdoor leaning, activities, information and training for farmers.  

Young farmers saw first-hand the work of Warwickshire farmer John Plumb during a YFC AGRI visit to Southfields Farm in Coleshill last year, where alongside environmental stewardship, the Plumb family hosts educational visits.

Q: What are the benefits of farm visits for schoolchildren?

  • Physical and emotional wellbeing. Due to Covid-19, many teachers are experiencing increased numbers of children who are worried about future events, lack basic social skills, and have problems with concentration.
  • Develop a first-hand connection and real-world understanding of the working countryside; conservation farming and food production; habitats and lifecycles; hands-on learning and possibly sparking an interest in farming careers or becoming members of YFCs. 
  • Understand how the countryside and farmers are vital for life and how their choices matter.

Q: What are the benefits for host farmers?

Farmers play an important role in helping children and their teachers understand and experience the countryside. Farm visits give you an opportunity to explain the work involved in the field to fork process of food production and the benefits of good nutrition; helping to explain the role land management plays in conservation, nature and wellbeing.

Defra offers Educational Access Payments (ED1), enabling farmers to claim £309 per visit, for up to 25 visits per year and new claims can be submitted with Countryside Stewardship applications (Mid or Higher Tier packages) which are reopening this February. (Note that ED1 is not a standalone item and can only be applied for with other Mid Tier (including Wildlife Offers) and Higher Tier options.)

Q: Which organisations would help with further information?

> Country Trust (England and North Wales) 

Connecting children with the land that sustains us all. Through food, farming and countryside experiences the Country Trust empowers disadvantaged children to create change in their lives and the world around them. 

> LEAF Education 

The organisation works to engage, inspire and motivate young people through experiential learning, in order to equip our future generations with balanced and informed insight into food production, farming and the environment.

  • Farmer Time – Free fortnightly video calls between farmers and classrooms. 
  • Training – Industry accredited training to support safe, high quality farm visits
  • Open Farm Sunday  – Farming’s annual open day – host your visit or volunteer 

>NFU Education 

A small team of former teachers who understand the NFU’s link with the education profession. NFU Education aims to save teachers time and reduce workload, to spark learners’ passion and enthusiasm for STEM subjects all whilst delivering important messages about food, farming and nutrition through a cross-curricular, project-based approach.

  • Farming STEMterprise – an award winning resource to help Primary schools link their learning to farming and STEM.
  • Farmers for Schools – interested in training to deliver a myth busting assembly to a Secondary school? Email education@nfu.org.uk 
  • Engineering Educates: Farmvention Challenge - want to help 7-14 year old students design a farm of the future with an in person or virtual partnership? Email farmvention@nfu.org.uk  

> RHET (Scotland Only)  

The Royal Highland Education Trust works with volunteers to provide free educational activities and experiential learning opportunities linked to Curriculum for Excellence.

> Farm Link (Devon and Cornwall)

Farm Link is dedicated to educating school children about farming, food production, healthier eating and the environment. To bring the classroom to the countryside and the countryside to the classroom.

> Countryside Classroom 

The Countryside Classroom helps teachers to find resources, places to visit and school support relating to the themes of food, farming and the natural environment. The Countryside Classroom site contains a range of quality assured educational content from hundreds of contributors. Countryside Classroom works through a partnership of 34 organisations – including NFYFC - with a focus on food, farming and the natural environment.

> Access To Farms 

Access to Farms is a partnership of organisations that helps farmers inspire the next generation by offering safe, fun access to farm visits.  Access To Farms is responsible for the creation of the Industry Code of Practice: preventing or controlling ill health through animal contact at visitor attractions. It is also responsible for CEVAS which is the established training course for landowners operating visits for schools and those with additional needs. 

Q: Is there anything else that I can do?

  • Contact your local school and offer to give a talk – see the handy Young Farmers Visiting Schools – a guide to help you prepare.
  • Include interactive activities for schoolchildren when you exhibit at county shows 
  • Team up with a local school, community or youth group for your YFC Operation Green project. 

You could include the topic of outdoor learning or food and farming education within a future club programme, invite one of the organisation’s representatives or host farmer to give a club talk or read about young farmer Ernie Richards who’s already talking to children from his farm. 

  

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