Hugh McClymont, a Morrisons milk supplier, has been bringing schools and other members of the public onto farms for two decades.
And so he was first in line to sign up to the Adopt A Farm trial with his local store in Dumfries, along with five other dairy producers.
“I am keen to educate the public about where food comes from,” says Hugh, who is farm manager at the 300-hectare (742-acre) Crighton Royal Farm.
We have a golden opportunity, because throughout the pandemic the NHS and farming have been paramount.
“The public needs to realise Morrisons sells food produced by farmers up and down the country and the local connection is significant.” Normally on his visits, he does a pre-planned route, having organised and risk-assessed it with the teacher.
Hugh says: “After washing their wellies in a foot bath and explaining about biosecurity, we go to the maternity unit where there is often a new calf or one being born.
We talk about calf management, show them our calf igloos, and let the kids go into an empty one while explaining how it is a choice for the calf to go in.” Children also visit the milking parlour and robotic milking unit.
Hugh says: “We explain the mechanics and electronics, then take them to the cow shed to get up close to cows and let them touch and sniff silage.” A tractor and trailer ride also takes the children past different crops, as Hugh explains what they are each used for.
He says: “It is a feel good factor, seeing the smiling faces.
Sometimes I project, such as the local Brownies and senior groups.
She says: “More than ever during the pandemic we have all realised how important community is, as is supporting people by buying their products and keeping them in a job.
“For the kids, it is developing their life skills and we have had a few saying they want to be farmers after visits, especially since they see how good it is being outside.” get a stack of thank you cards afterwards.
“Soon, I think it will be mandatory as part of contracts to engage with the public and I think more farmers need to do this.
“Farmers might say ‘it is not our role to entertain the public’, but they are our consumer.
“If you are doing the job properly, you have nothing to fear and you feel you are doing something for the greater good of the industry.” Hugh is chairman of the Royal Highland Education Trust in Dumfries and Galloway, which is working with Adopt A Farm and supporting farmers to run risk assessments and prepare for visits safely
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