Six years heading up SAA schools event ends on a high for farmer John

Thousands of children descend on Trinity Park for the annual School Food and Farm Country Fair.
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Thousands of children descend on Trinity Park for the annual School Food and Farm Country Fair. John Taylor and Brian Barker PICTURE: Andy Abbott - Credit: Archant

Farmer John Taylor’s six year reign as chair of the committee which organises the Suffolk Agricultural Association’s (SAA) flagship schools event ended on a high this week.

Suffolk Agricultural Association (SAA) School Farm and Country Fair Committee chair John Taylor (for

Suffolk Agricultural Association (SAA) School Farm and Country Fair Committee chair John Taylor (foreground), who is standing down, with his successor, Brian Barker. Picture: SAA - Credit: Archant

Thursday’s glorious School Farm and Country Fair marked the end of his chairmanship and the beginning of Brian Barker’s turn in the hotseat.

John has been involved in the annual educational event at Trinity Park, Ipswich, from its launch in 2001 in the wake of a foot-and-mouth outbreak which brought the countryside to a standstill. He spent six years at a steward, the next six as a committee member and finally, six years as its chair.

This year’s fair brought around 4,500 primary schoolchildren from all over county to the home of the Suffolk Show and an event some describe as a ‘mini Suffolk Show’.

The aim is to bring youngsters into contact with the countryside and farming, and encourage the next generation of farmers.

Suffolk Agricultural Association (SAA) School Farm and Country Fair Committee chair John Taylor, who

Suffolk Agricultural Association (SAA) School Farm and Country Fair Committee chair John Taylor, who is standing down, with his successor, Brian Barker. Picture: SAA - Credit: Archant


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Teachers at this year’s event heaped praise on the teaching aids, guides and the well-oiled organisational machine behind it.

John described his swansong fair as “fantastic” and was delighted to see the weather turn in farmers’ favour just in time.

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“We are really, really fortunate after almost six months of cold and wet we have got a fantastic day to show off farming in Suffolk,” he said.

He described Brian as “a younger version of me” able to move the event forward.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed doing it and every year have tried to improve it in some way,” he said.

“Over the years we have tried to give every child a chance to come,” he added. “Every year we have new schools entering.”

Being able to get schoolchildren bused in from as far afield as Lowestoft using subsidised transport with the help of the event’s sponsors was a big achievement, he said.

“They probably feel they are too far away or their teachers aren’t as interested in farming but we are getting more and more coming which I think is really, really important.”

Brian, who has been on the committee for around seven years, said: “It’s a great event, basically trying to reconnect with the next generation of potential farmers and consumers and trying to make them understand Suffolk produces some of the best food in the UK.”

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