The East of England Showground was buzzing with the excitement of children getting muddy and planting vegetables at the Grow Your Own Potatoes event hosted by Kids Country, the education arm of the East of England Agricultural Society.
Over 350 children took part in experiential sessions designed to give them an understanding and appreciation of food, farming and the countryside – research from Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF) suggests that the UK education system has failed to teach children about where their food comes from, with 78 percent of children no knowing that broccoli grows on a plant and 28 percent having no idea that carrots grow underground.
The children got hands-on with planting potatoes, beetroots, carrots and lettuces, while gaining an understanding of how they can be enjoyed as part of a healthy, balanced diet. The children planted their own seeds and learnt how to look after them, taking their planted produce back to school so that they can watch them grow. The children will return to the Showground later this year with their produce to learn about the harvesting process.
Michelle Hendry, teacher at Woodston Primary School, one of the 11 schools that attended, commented on the event: “Hands-on education days are vital for children to receive a rounded education. Each one of our pupils takes away so much from the event; to see how a vegetable is planted and to be shown the entire process from field to fork, provides children with a deeper understanding of where their food comes from.”
One of the pupils from Woodston Primary School added: “I have had the best day, I got to dig in soil, touch worms that felt weird and, I have my own potato which, when it grows, I can eat for tea.”
The event was supported by some of the largest international vegetable producers including G’s Fresh and Produce World. Guy Thallon, Head of Research, Development and Innovation at Produce World, explains why they get involved in projects like the Kids Country Grow Your Own Potatoes event: “Community impact is an important aspect of Produce World’s 4Life programme and our work with Kids Country plays a vital role in this. It gives us a great opportunity to meet the consumers of the future and help them to learn a little more about where their food comes. We have been involved with ‘Grow Your Own Potatoes’ for four years now. The team at Produce World loves the event and we never get tired of the fun that the children have in growing their own potatoes.”
For more information about the Kids Country Education Programme visit http://www.eastofengland.org.uk/kids-country/.