Schools farm contest fuels creativity

Farming School of the Year with Prince Harry

Farming School of the Year with Prince Harry - Credit: Archant

Schoolchildren from across Suffolk are set to battle it out in a competition which encourages them to combine creativity and practical farming knowledge.

Bruce Kerr in his asparagus field.

Bruce Kerr in his asparagus field. - Credit: Archant

The coveted Suffolk Farming School of the Year title will be awarded to Key Stage 2 pupils who come up with the best design for a free-standing farmyard made from recycled food packaging. It must include a form of energy, animals and a tractor.

‘Agriculture - supplying your energy’ is the title for this year’s competition, staged by Suffolk Show organisers the Suffolk Agricultural Association (SAA). The competition is linked to the Farm Discovery Zone at the show which was itself inspired by the success of the SAA’s School Farm and Country Fair and which will form the backdrop for the final of the competition, which takes place on Thursday, May 28 - the second day of the show.

Last year, winners from Saxmundham Primary School, who came up with a design for a combine harvester, got to meet with Prince Harry at the show. They also visited farm machinery makers Claas UK at Bury St Edmunds and a neighbouring farm belonging to George Gittus.

The first round of the contest involves building a model. These are judged by a special SAA committee and the top five go forward to the second round which will be held on Tuesday, May 12, at Trinity Park, Ipswich.

This will be a chance for pupils to meet their competitors and enhance their knowledge of farming and energy through workshops which comprise of cookery, art, meeting a farmer and the opportunity to see at first-hand how farm machinery can turn crops into energy.

The pupils will be assessed on their knowledge, teamwork and enthusiasm with the top three schools going through to the final at the Suffolk Show. Schools are asked to prepare and perform a 10-minute presentation where the pupils are free to present using drama, song, dance or poetry leaving them to be creative and innovative to showcase what they have learnt throughout their journey to the final.

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Bruce Kerr, an arable farmer based at Hoo, near Woodbridge, who has been involved in the competition since its launch three years ago, said in previous years it had been “fantastically successful”.

In the first year of the contest, children were tasked with creating a model sheep and last year a combine harvester, but this year they will be faced with a new challenge.

The aim was to show pupils that farms weren’t just about producing food, but also energy in a variety of forms from solar to woodchip burners to biodigesters, he explained.

“It’s quite creative,” he said. “It’s about engagement and it’s about interactivity. The children love it. I think the big hurdle is getting the teachers to engage in the early part.”

The SAA hopes to encourage a greater understanding of farming among schoolchildren and inspire some of them to take up a career in the sector in later life.

Schools wanting to take part in the Suffolk Farming School of the Year competition should fill out their entry forms as soon as possible this month. Finished models need to be ready for collection by March 23. Contact SAA education officer Hannah Woods at or 01473 707118 for more details.