FIRST ‘FARM MY FOOD’ DAY IN HAMPSHIRE JUDGED GREAT SUCCESS
Hampshire’s first #FarmMyFood day, held on Thursday, 30th June, has been judged a great success by students, teachers and the organisers: LEAF working in partnership with Hampshire Fare, the county food group, and Wheatsheaf Farming.
Cllr Roz Chadd, Deputy Leader & Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services, Hampshire County Council, opened #FarmMyFood day. Cllr Chadd said: “Today will provide an inspirational way to learn about the rural environment that surrounds us, how our food is produced, where our food comes from, and the importance of agriculture. Getting back to the soil, back to the land, back to the heritage, even if for just a day, can get the conversation going around how the land provides the food on our table, and we hope today instils an awareness and curiosity about the farming process. There is a real passion among young people to see farming and the environment safeguarded for future generations, and we would like to thank Hampshire Fare, LEAF and Wheatsheaf Farming for planning this important event.”
More than 150 students attended from secondary schools across the region including: John Hanson Community School, Andover; The Costello School, Basingstoke; Testbourne Community School, Whitchurch; and Langtree School, near Reading.
Tracy Nash, Commercial Manager, Hampshire Fare, explained: “It so exciting to see the students enjoying today, it makes all the planning worthwhile. Days like this are needed to help the next generation understand the food and farming industries. They’ve toured the farm, learned about business and nutrition, and tasted products they hadn’t tried before such as Laverstoke Buffalo Mozzarella.”
The #FarmMyFood day was hosted by Wheatsheaf Farming, Sustainable Farming Award Winner 2022, at Folly Farm, North Waltham. Kate Baylis of Wheatsheaf Farming, who was also a food technology teacher for over 20 years, said: “The best way to teach children is to bring them out and show them. We regularly have primary school pupils visit us, but this is the first time we’ve hosted secondary school pupils.”
Samantha Plunkett, Food Preparation & Nutrition Teacher, Testbourne Community School, said: “So much effort has been put into the day. It’s lovely to see how committed the organisers and producers are, and how excited and interested the students are. These are things our pupils are not normally exposed to as there are not that many opportunities to do field trips – this is quite exceptional.”
Students were very enthusiastic. Initially surprised to be visiting a farm without animals, they agreed that there was lots to do and that it was a good learning experience. The day included tractor tours of this working farm with its focus on regenerative farming, food hall of local produce and business hubs with topical discussions taking place.
Rory Mulholland, Senior Butcher, Owton’s Family Butchers, was impressed by the students’ interest. Students also enjoyed the food preparation workshops given by Paul Dickinson, Director of Food, Fuller’s. Paul is responsible for Fullers’ multi-million pound food budget as well as founder of Fullers’ Chefs’ Guild, with a training kitchen based locally at Laverstoke Park Farm. Paul commented that days like this are key. He encouraged the students to make strawberry tarts using strawberries and cream “from a couple of miles down the road”, and explained the importance of preparation, texture and flavour combinations.
Jo Hatton, South East Region, LEAF, said: “Having support from Hampshire Fare has been amazing, as well as Kate and Colin Baylis and David Miller of Wheatsheaf Farming, who have made it all come together. This is a great farm to showcase how it should be done.”
Carl Edwards, Director Education & Public Engagement, LEAF, added: “These days have enormous value and impact. There is a ripple effect when topics from events such as this become embedded into the curriculum. It is about challenging stereotypes and showing how farming involves skills such as data analysis, it is not just about growing crops to feed the nation. The food hall and variety of local produce really excited the students, and we hope the students realise that what they choose to buy directly impacts the environment where they live.”
Tracy Nash concludes: “#FarmMyFood day brought together a range of experts with topics from finance to food preparation, soil health to sustainability. It was the largest event Hampshire Fare has been involved with for school pupils and our first such event to be held on location on a farm. The intention was to enable the next generation to make well informed decisions about their own nutritional health as well as career options. We intend working with LEAF to develop the #FarmMyFood concept in Hampshire further.”
“We can’t thank enough those who have stepped forward to support #FarmMyFood. They include Fullers’ Chefs Guild, NFU, Savills, Simmons & Sons, Southern Co-op, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and Hampshire County Council.”
Image Copyright The Electric Eye Photography