LEAF Education, in partnership with Reaseheath College, Nantwich, Cheshire, has today announced the launch of its fifth annual National Food, Farming and Natural Environment competition.
The competition is a key part of LEAF Education’s work as the lead Agri-education organisation in England and Wales, to motivate and inspire the next generation of young people to become involved in the agri-food industry. This year’s competition once again aims to engage secondary school students with farming, food production and the natural environment. The successful schools will win a fully funded, immersive and highly technical weekend on the college farm experiencing some practical, hands on farming, whilst also delving into the science and technology involved in the whole supply chain, from food production, to processing and packaging.
Entries are now open to secondary schools (years 9-11) across England and Wales, with teachers invited to submit an application explaining why they feel their school deserves a place in the finals. This could be anything from the benefits the students hope to gain from experiencing life on a working farm, to their thoughts on the role agriculture plays in helping address climate change and why young people should care more about how their food is produced.
From the submitted applications, judges will select seven schools to take part in an activity filled finalists’ weekend at Reaseheath College, while competing in answering a hypothesis over the weekend - the winning school team will be crowned the 'National Winner 2023’.
Carl Edwards, Director, Education and Public Engagement at LEAF Education, said:
“The National Food, Farming and Natural Environment competition is now established as a central part of our work to engage and inspire future generations about farming and food production through transformative and meaningful on-farm experiences. It offers those in year 9 to 11 the chance to bring them closer to how their food is produced and raise awareness of how the agri-food industry is part of the solution to combatting climate change alongside highlighting the exciting and diverse career opportunities available in the sector.
“Since we launched the competition in 2018, we have delivered real impact for the industry with over a third of the students who have taken part have gone on to apply to study at land-based colleges. No other industry initiative delivers this kind of meaningful action for new entrants from non agri-food backgrounds. All students reported the experience had ‘positively changed their perception of the farming industry’ and that it had ‘helped them with their studies back at school.”
The finalists’ weekend will take place from 7-9 July 2023, encompassing fun, educational activities based around Reaseheath College’s large commercial farming estate of over 300 hectares of farmland, amenity land, woodland, hedgerows and ornamental lakes and ponds. The farm also supports a herd of 200 pedigree dairy cows which are milked by robots, as well as 400 highlander flock sheep, grassland and arable cropping enterprises, high tech greenhouses and vertical farm, as well as a grade AAA accredited food centre with onsite dairy processing, bakery, patisserie and butchery. During the weekend, students will take part in hands-on activities and see the latest technology in action, as they gain an insight into the career opportunities open to them, showcasing the full food supply chain, and come to better understand their food’s journey from farm to fork.
Entries opened on 27 March 2023 and close on 28 April 2023.
Finalist schools will be informed on 8th May 2023.
The finals weekend will take place from 7-9th July 2023.