Otley: Land college heads up EU project looking at issues surrounding teenage obesity

Sally Bendall, front row righ, at Hollowtrees farm, with students

Sally Bendall, front row righ, at Hollowtrees farm, with students - Credit: Archant

An East Anglian land college is taking part in a two-year study aimed at finding out about teenage obesity in European Union (EU) countries.

Sally Bendall with the group on a tour of her premises at Semer, near Hadleigh

Sally Bendall with the group on a tour of her premises at Semer, near Hadleigh - Credit: Archant

Easton and Otley College will take part in project, which is looking into causes of and cures for the condition, through the Comenius programme, a European Union educational project, which aims to develop understanding of other cultures.

Charlie Askew, livestock lecturer, John Lemon and Brett Robinson, agricultural students from the Eas

Charlie Askew, livestock lecturer, John Lemon and Brett Robinson, agricultural students from the Easton campus, and Natasha Waller, land-based curriculum manager, at the start of the scheme - Credit: Archant

Around 50 students and staff from schools and colleges in Austria, France and Italy arrived in Norwich for the launch of the scheme, which is entitled ‘you are what you eat’.

David Lawrence, centre, with representatives from the project

David Lawrence, centre, with representatives from the project - Credit: Archant

College principal David Lawrence gave an introductory speech and the party was given a tour of the Easton campus in Norfolk before taking part in a variety of lessons to get a flavour of what education is like in Britain.

During the week Easton and Otley College food and agricultural students gave talks, and the group visited the Institute of Food Research (IFR). It visited the college’s Otley campus near Ipswich and took part in cooking, nutritional lectures and sport classes to get a UK perspective of the overall aims of the project.


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One group also toured a farm business in Semer, near Hadleigh, owned by college chair of governors Sally Bendall.

Mrs Bendall has owned Hollowtrees farm in Semer for 27 years and currently employs 56 people. During the visit the group got a tour of her farm shop, nature trail and looked at how local produce went from the field to the fork.

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“I explained how our farm has evolved over the years and where food comes from which is a crucial learning part of this project. My daughter is currently in New Zealand studying on a sports science degree and I strongly believe that experiences abroad for students can be of great value to their overall development as individuals – therefore I was delighted to be involved,” she said.

The first leg of the project ended with a cultural tour of the region that included a visit to Morston Quay to see local wildlife followed by a trip to Wells-next-the-Sea.

Charlie Askew, a livestock lecturer and organiser of the event, said: “Discussions on these issues are incredibly important because food and farming are inextricably linked and agriculture in all its many forms is a massive part of the overall college strategy, as is the wellbeing of our students and staff and we are happy to open up this debate and learn as much as we can from our European cousins on this much talked about subject.

“Overall the visit has gone incredibly well and our students are looking forward to playing an active part in this debate when they go on return visits – that will include work experience opportunities – to other parts of Europe next year.”

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