Nine British farms and farming organisations have been shortlisted for a prestigious education award, recognising their work in helping educate young people about farming and where their food comes from.
With the urban / rural divide increasing, and many schools not including agriculture within the curriculum, there are many examples of young people lacking an understanding about where their food comes from, how it is produced, and also the great career opportunities within an increasingly technologically-advanced industry.
Many farmers respond to those challenges by providing opportunities for young people to visit farms to take part in educational activities and learn more about food, farming and the natural world, in a safe environment.
With a slightly new format recognising differences in approaches to primary and secondary schools, the farming education charity LEAF Education, and leading agricultural company, Bayer Crop Science aim to highlight the best examples with these Awards, which will be presented at a prestigious event in November.
The shortlisted farms are as follows:
“The standard of entries this year has been fantastic”, said Carl Edwards, Director of LEAF Education. “There were so many great examples of innovative practices making a real difference to the education young people receive about food and farming, but in the end, we have chosen nine exceptional farms and organisations to go through to the next stage of judging.”
“There has never been a more important time to host these Awards celebrating the value that farmers bring to society through education initiatives” said Michael Muncey, Head of Business for Bayer Crop Science in the UK. “UK farming is an exciting place to be in, and we are delighted to be once again recognising those people going out of their way to share their passion for why farming is such an important profession.”
Leading the judging process, Janet Hickinbottom MBE, National Education Officer at LEAF Education, said “We have a strong tradition of working together to celebrate the tremendous work carried out by unsung heroes who do so much to share their knowledge and enthusiasm about the countryside with young people.
The process is not an easy one, but the outcome is always exhilarating as we uncover what goes on during these inspiring collaborations between schools and farms.”
Background to the Awards
The three categories within the Bayer-LEAF Education Awards are:
Primary Education Award
This celebrates a farm that has built and continues to build a successful relationship with primary schools (5-11 year olds) and makes a valuable and sustained contribution to school life, both on and away from the farm. Specifically, the judges have been looking for those organisations which generate creative partnerships that are making real and lasting differences to young children’s understanding of farming and where their food comes from.
Secondary Education Award
The Secondary School Partnership Award shines a spotlight on a farm business that has gone out of its way to build a successful relationship with one or more secondary schools (11-18 years old). Specifically, the judges have been looking for those organisations that are working with young people in new and imaginative ways to engage them with farming and helping to ignite their interest in the natural world. Projects that are making a valuable and sustained contribution to school life on and away from the farm are particularly important.
Innovative Learning Award
The Innovative Learning Award recognises a farm, agricultural business or organisation demonstrating innovative work with schools encouraging an understanding of and interest in current farming practices, whether utilising technology, thinking creatively about showing modern, sustainable farming or raising awareness of on-farm innovation. Specifically, the judges are looking for an outstanding farm education initiative that really showcases modern sustainable farming.