Enhancing the Value of farm visits, Launch event report

Andrew Percy MP for Goole formally launched the 2012 programme of  DoC videos ‘Enhancing the value of farm visits’
Mr Percy was a teacher before he became and MP and is a champion of outdoor learning ,speaking regularly at Westminster on the subject .
‘Numerous surveys have highlighted the many benefits of outdoor learning and farm visits are part of this programme ‘ he said .’ “We cannot underestimate the value of getting children to visit places like this, where they can see and take part in the process of growing food. Getting outside is one thing, but we do not have to be outside to appreciate the value of farming, and that’s where Discovering Our Countryside comes in.’  ‘DoC takes farm visits back to the classroom allowing the children to follow through a particular days experience ‘

David Shaw, Area Manager for Natural England in North Yorkshire, said he was very pleased to be supporting Discovering Our Countryside. “It is a great way of educating and making young people aware of what’s going on in the countryside without necessarily going on a visit from schools to farms.”
“There’s a huge job to do in getting the knowledge across about just where our food comes from. I am aware that there are barriers to organising and conducting farm visits and these are not simply down to health and safety or cost, but they involve the confidence and capability of teachers, and their capacity to lead such visits,” he added.
David’s presentation on the work Natural England is doing is attached .

Julian Davies took the guests on a short tour to explain the work which STC Research Foundation does related to growing plants and reconnecting children with the source of their food and its dietary benefits . DoC is one element of this wider programme .
“One basic problem is that children come to Stockbridge to learn about growing plants at a single point in time – four times a year is what we usually offer –and then they go away. That does not give them the experience of growing up in the countryside. To understand food and where it comes from you need to understand all the seasons of the year. We are trying to overcome the barriers we find within schools and introduce some continuity throughout the year.

Mark Thompson who makes the videos presented an example and said “Discovering Our Countryside does not stick with just one area of farming: we develop films that involve the whole of food production including animals and plants. We want the children to talk about food production and feel that they are involved,” We always do a section on the natural environment within  which our farming takes place ‘
Six videos are available for each school term, Spring, Summer and Autumn, enabling the Discovering Our Countryside web site to capture annual food production and wildlife cycles, showing how natural biodiversity and farming inter-relate. There are continuity themes, giving a meaning to the rhythm of all the seasons: an experience lost to many children. Discovering Our Countryside is currently a free service to schools.  Schools need to register on the web site(for security protection), and they will be able to screen films in the classroom that have been specially created and produced to meet the requirements of the national curriculum and lesson context.