Where does our food come from?
- Credit: Archant
School children were encouraged to look beyond the supermarket packaging to understand where their food comes from at an agricultural show in Ipswich.
The 19th School Farm and Country Fair, held at Trinity Park, was attended by more than 4,000 Year 3 and 4 pupils who were able to get hands-on experience with farm animals, including chicks, ducklings, sheep and goats, to handle the grains grown here, and wool clipped from sheep. There were also giant farm tractors and machinery on display at the annual event, held ahead of the Suffolk Show in May. Organising committee chairman and farmer Brian Barker has been involved for a number of years and he said: “We are trying to showcase everything about Suffolk farming, what grows here and what goes on in the countryside. We want to show everything that the industry of agriculture has got to offer and how it can fit in with the national curriculum.
“If we can inspire children to recycle, to eat local food and enthuse them to understand the countryside and why it is so important to look after it, then it has been a fantastic event.”
More than 200 exhibitors and 270 other volunteers helped make the day possible.
Outside the main hall, school groups were waiting to see the next interactive Carrot Show, and snacking on free local carrots.
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Mendlesham Primary School teacher Jennie Owen said: “We have 28 children here and they are having a great time.
“Although they live in a village and are quite used to the countryside, they are not really involved with it. I think it is very important for them to understand where their food comes from.”
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School pupil George added: “I really liked holding the animals, the chicks and ducklings. I would like to have chickens at home.”
Around the showground there were heavy horse shows, horse and hound displays and a demonstrations by Suffolk sheep shearer Holly Sleightholme.
Holly, 21, works with her parents on the Elveden Estate, where they have 3,000 ewes.
She is blazing a trail for youth, and women, in the profession. “I love it,” she said, “I can shear 100 sheep a day. My dad Paul used to be a shearer and I started when I was 17.”
The visitors were fascinated to touch and feel the texture of the coats as Holly sheared the sheep.
Spinning and weaving were also popular demonstrations on site.
Red Poll farmer Denise Thomas, from Lavenham Brooks, was allowing pupils to climb up and stroke the cattle.
She said: “Some children want to know whether they are cows, camels or horses.
“And they ask, ‘can I stroke them?’ They are surprised at how soft they are.
“I absolutely love it. It is a real hands-on experience for them.”