Monmouthshire Schools Spend ‘A Year On The Farm’

Schools across Monmouthshire are having regular video calls with local food producers to help pupils learn what happens in the fields and sheds around them, and where their food comes from.

Monmouthshire Food Partnership is helping make the links between schools and farmers. With ten ‘matches’ so far, this project has proved to be very attractive to everyone involved.

Sessions are online, fortnightly, and the school-children and farmer engage in a 20 minute video call to discuss what has happened on the farm since they last met. The children and teachers have really embraced the project, and find it fits well with many areas of the new Welsh curriculum.

One participating farmer has described how the school is weaving their ‘Year on the Farm’ conversations into other lessons:

Last time we talked about how many of each type of animal I have on the farm, and they [the children] are going to use this information to make a bar chart on the computer. They are also going to measure the school grounds and see how it compares to the 10 acres here.

Other conversations have covered sustainability in farming, seasonality, food miles, and use of plastic. Some children and schools have been inspired to grow their own food, with their farming partner passing on valuable skills in how to propagate, transplant and nurture young plants. These respectful relationships developing between farmer and school really make the project shine. In time, MFP hopes the project can expand to include outdoor learning, through experiences such as visiting farms, orchards and processing plants.

The ambition is that exposure to real-life and real-time farming will help children understand and respect food and the people and places that produce it, and inspire them to consider careers in agriculture, food, and supporting industries.

MFP believes it is vitally important for our young people to understand where their food comes from: that potatoes and carrots grow in the soil, and apples and pears grow on trees; that lamb comes from sheep; and that beef, milk, cheese, and yoghurt come from cattle. We need our children to know that people work hard to provide our food, that different farms work in different ways, and that different foods grow here at different times of year. It seems much of that knowledge has been lost, so our ambition with this project is to help bring it back so that future generations understand and appreciate the countryside and can make informed food choices.

This project was inspired by FarmerTime, run by LEAF Ed., and MFP thanks LEAF Ed. for their support at the beginning.