Suffolk: Agricultural Association launches 2014 Farming School of the Year contest

John Taylor with children at a  potato day at Trinity Park. John Taylor with children at a potato day at Trinity Park.

Sunday, January 19, 2014
12:00 PM

Helping school children and young people discover all about food and farming in a fun and hands-on way is a top priority for the Suffolk Agricultural Association (SAA).

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As a new year begins, as well as organising the Suffolk Show, the association has a packed timetable for educational activities in and outside the classroom.

The Farming School of the Year Competition 2014 is launched and primary schools have until February 14 to register their entries.

Following the success of last year’s debut competition, the theme for association’s initiative is combinables, a hugely significant and relevant topic for the Suffolk countryside and perhaps one little understood by many 7-11 year olds. “The theme is designed to help children make the connection between what grows in the fields and what appears on their plates. Many of them may have seen combines at work, but do not realise what they are doing and why. We want to them to discover that the combine is just one process in making many foods including the Malteser or their breakfast cereal or mid morning cereal snack bar. This three-part competition is fantastic for communicating how these crops impact on every aspect of their lives,” said Helen Fomenko, education officer.

“Working in conjunction with Emma Haines and her team at Cook With Me Kids we have produced a resource pack on combine facts, key words, explanations of combinable crops and how every part of the crop is used.”

Part one involves making a sculpture of a combine harvester, measuring 80cms, from recycled food packaging to be ready for collection by March 24.

The five schools that produce winning combines will be invited to participate in a hands-on workshop day at Trinity Park with farmers on May 8, and from these, three finalists will be selected and asked to send pupils to the Suffolk Show for the final on May 28.

Last year’s theme for the Suffolk Farming School of the Year competition, sheep, captured the imagination of the 45 primary schools who created model sheep from recyclable materials. The competition concluded in the Farminanglia marquee at the show which became a demonstration area and interactive setting for the final. More especially it proved the children’s appetite for hands-on discovery activities. It is the inspiration behind the show committee’s decision to change the name and focus of this area to the new 
Farm Discovery Zone for this year’s show.

During the course of the competition some members of the association will also be taking combine harvesters into schools to give pupils a chance to see the machine and continue to build the relationships between the school and the local farmers.

The association is keen to hear from any businesses or companies who share its passion for giving school children a fun learning experience into how their food is produced, who might be interested in participating through sponsorship.

To register your school email:helen.fomenko@suffolkshow.co.uk or visit www.suffolkshow/education.

“Last year’s winners were Britannia School who attended the School Farm and Country Fair (SFCF) for the first time, following a letter written by Lord Deben, as president in 2012, inviting schools who had previously not attended. A wonderful 74 of them registered,” said SFCF chairman John Taylor. “And what a year it turned out to be for them!” The school decided to centre its curriculum around food and farming and completely embraced the competition with fantastic results.”

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