A primary school in central London was transformed into a farm for the day complete with livestock, egg hatchery and a New Holland tractor as part of an NFU drive to reconnect children with food and the countryside.
Pupils at Ronald Ross Primary in Wimbledon were treated to the experience after one of their pupils, Afeefa Harron, won the union’s Farmvention competition to design a tractor for the future.
The eight-year-old developed a prototype of an eco-friendly drone zip line which protects soil structure by sowing, maintaining and picking the crop from above, removing the need for heavy machinery.
She said her design helped farmers protect the environment by reducing soil compaction and, along with the rest of the farm and house, was powered by electricity generated by a wind turbine and solar array.
NFU president Minette Batters said she was ‘blown away’ by the ingenious design.
She said the national competition, which saw more than 1,000 entries, had allowed children to get excited about food and farming.
“They are asking about where the food they love comes from and how farmers produce it,” said Ms Batters.
“That is what our Farmvention competition is all about – bridging the gap between the next generation, especially those in urban areas, and the food on their plates.
“The education system has such an important role to play in opening children’s minds to new opportunities. The success of this year’s Farmvention competition shows how well the food and farming context fits within STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning, and offers children the chance to explore and experience a completely new area that they otherwise might miss."
Ronald Ross headteacher Abby Brady said the children had ‘loved stepping into the shoes of a farmer’ for the day. Some of the children had never travelled outside of London.
She added: “It has shown our pupils that there are amazing opportunities awaiting them in Britain’s countryside. It has really helped broaden their horizons, especially as many of the children haven’t even been outside of London.
“As a headteacher there is nothing better than pupils who are enthusiastic about learning and it has been amazing to see them so excited to experience new things, from making pizzas and flying drones to brushing ponies and caring for newly-hatched chicks.”
Some of the activities included: