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School visits unite farmers with local communities

In a drive to connect farmers and communities, Morrisons wants to pair every one of its stores with a local farmer. We speak to a Scottish farmer and community champion about the positives of working to educate children.

It is a bold ambition for the UK’s fourth largest supermarket: in time, every one of Morrisons’ 500 stores will pair up with at least one of its farmer suppliers to run regular farm visits and in-store activities.

The retailer hopes its ‘Adopt A Farm’ initiative will bring communities and farmers closer together, and create a better understanding of food production and the surrounding farmers who supply it.

Sophie Jenkinson, Morrisons’ agriculture, fisheries and sustainable sourcing specialist, who is leading the project, hopes it will also help farmers feel more supported.

She says: “Connecting farmers and customers with each other is a great way to help tell the story of the fantastic food we produce in this country.

Loneliness and isolation can also be a big issue in farming, so we hope this will help farmers, who are a key part of their communities feel more supported.”

 

Linking to the curriculum

 

So far the initiative has been trialled with five stores in Scotland, 10 farming businesses and three schools, with the Royal Highland Educational Trust (RHET) supporting farmers to run visits safely.

Sophie says: “We have trialled half-day school visits to farms, followed by another visit to the store with activities.

By having both visits, we hope the children make the connection between what they see in store and where that food comes from.” Feedback from pupils and teachers has been very positive, with one pupil, from the P3/4/5 class from Kirkpatrick JThe UK’s consumers are relying on farmers more than ever before to do what you do best and continue feeding the nation during these extraordinary times.

Just a few weeks ago, Prince Charles confirmed the national crisis had brought home how much the public relies on farmers and everyone else who works in the hundreds of jobs within the supply chain.

Today we are as proud as ever to launch 24 Hours in Farming 2020 and it has never been such a poignant time to show the public what you do.

You can take part on social media platforms, including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, from 5am on Thursday, August 6, until 5am on Friday, August 7.

As always, throughout the 24 hours, the Farmers Guardian team will be right here with youcurating the masses of content and sharing it across our platforms during the agricultural industry’s biggest online event.

Fleming Primary School, stating: “On World Milk Day we did a visit to a dairy farm.

A calf was born while we were there, it was amazing.” The comment came after the class had visited Messrs Irving at Beconhall Farm, an Arla farmer supplying milk to Morrisons, with the support of the RHET Dumfries and Galloway Countryside Initiative.

Joshua Payne, a former teacher and now chief education manager at the NFU, is helping develop activities linked to the curriculum.

Farm visits will be catalysts for these activities, he says.

So a visit to a dairy farm might end in children churning butter in store, while an arable farm visit might see them bake bread afterwards.

Children will test their science and maths skills by growing vegetables, planning recipes, shopping for ingredients and learning to budget.


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Treasure hunt

 

In the fresh produce aisles, they will identify leaves, roots and seeds, create maps of where food comes from, and go on a Red Tractor logo treasure hunt.

Joshua says: “We know kids are disconnected to where food comes from and primary school age is when they start to gain misconceptions, so it is a good time to push back against those around food.” Farmers involved will also be encouraged to meet customers in store and answer questions, which is something Morrisons already does, with huge interest from staff and shoppers.

Sophie says: “It is an opportunity for colleagues and customers to chat with their local farmer and for farmers to bust a couple of myths.” Activities are dependent on safety and coronavirus restrictions, but once it is safe to do so, Adopt A Farm will be rolled out across Scotland before moving on to Wales and then England.

How to get involved in 24 Hours in Farming

How to get involved in 24 Hours in Farming
  • Simply tag your social media posts with #Farm24 and include @FarmersGuardian and @Morrisons
  • Show your working day
  • Show what makes you proud
  • Share the benefits of buying British
  • Show where food comes from
  • Show how you are keeping the nation fed

 

Take the pledge at FGinsight.com/GetInvolved and in return we will send you a pledge pack and lots of tips to get involved, so we collectively raise the voice of agriculture

 

Spotlight: The store community champion

Spotlight: The store community champion

Myra Smith has worked at the Dumfries Morrisons store for 34 years, the last six of which she has been its community champion.

She is working hard to donate food from the store to people in need during lockdown, but is hoping to start running Adopt A Farm visits in autumn.

Last year, she accompanied a school on a trial farm visit to Crighton Royal Farm to meet Hugh and says she was as excited as the children to see a calf born.

“There were about 20 kids; all very excited,” she recalls.

“The vet was there scanning a cow, so they learned things such as how long a cow is pregnant for.

They definitely learned a lot and it was good for them to see.

“We got them to find local fruit and vegetables and others which were tropical.

On the fish counter, we talked about how local the fish was, and at the deli counter they all got a cheese to try.

“We used Lockerbie cheese, which is local.

In the canteen we gave them all a glass of milk and a cake to decorate with cream, so they get to use dairy products after visiting the dairy farm.” Myra hopes a range of people will want to get involved with the 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.”

24 Hours in Farming is back

24 Hours in Farming is back

The UK’s consumers are relying on farmers more than ever before to do what you do best and continue feeding the nation during these extraordinary times.


Just a few weeks ago, Prince Charles confirmed the national crisis had brought home how much the public relies on farmers and everyone else who works in the hundreds of jobs within the supply chain. Today we are as proud as ever to launch 24 Hours in Farming 2020 and it has never been such a poignant time to show the public what you do.


You can take part on social media platforms, including Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, from 5am on Thursday, August 6, until 5am on Friday, August 7.


As always, throughout the 24 hours, the Farmers Guardian team will be right here with youcurating the masses of content and sharing it across our platforms during the agricultural industry’s biggest online event.

Get involved with #Farm24 or for more information:

Visit the Farm24 Hub

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Visit the series home page for more information

24hoursinfarming

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