Applications are open for the eighth joint Bayer and Farming and Countryside Education Bayer / FACE Awards, which celebrate the great work that farmers and those involved in agriculture do to provide meaningful learning experiences for all ages and abilities, but especially children and young adults on farms and in the countryside.
There is a disconnect between many young people and agriculture, explains Alice Turnbull, from Bayer’s Communications and Government Affairs department. “It is important for everyone to understand where their food comes from and how it is produced, and the role that science and technology plays in farming today in feeding a growing population sustainably.
“The Bayer / FACE Awards are an excellent way of highlighting those farmers who go to considerable efforts to help provide an enjoyable learning experience on farms, and who do much to bridge the divide between farming and the public.”
Farming and Countryside Education is the industry’s leading charity providing the link between farming and schools. Its CEO Dan Corlett says that farming and food supply is everybody’s business. “We believe it is essential more than ever for the agricultural industry to have an informed conversation with consumers, voters and even employees of the future. Those who work directly with schools and the public are at the forefront of that conversation, and are of immeasurable value to farming, and to society.”
Applicants are able to enter the competition, which culminates in an Awards ceremony in September 2017, in one of five categories that demonstrate the array of initiatives operating nationwide.
The five categories are:
Access Award for a farm which demonstrates outstanding achievement in encouraging access for pupils with special needs, disaffected students or disadvantaged young people.
Biodiversity Award for a farm which encourages young people to develop a greater understanding of the importance of biodiversity – in general or for a specific species.
Future of Farming Champion Award for a farm which is making an outstanding contribution to improving young people’s understanding of the food and farming sector. For example, encouraging entrepreneurship through schools, farmers’ markets, offering work experience or explaining career opportunities.
Farm School Partnership Award for a farm fostering successful relationships with one or several schools, making a valuable and sustained contribution to school life both on and away from the farm.
Inspiring Educator Award for a farmer or team who have initiated inspiring new learning experiences which are seen as something really unusual or particularly innovative and effective in terms of the learning that children have on the farm or back in the classroom.
For the first time applicants are also offered the additional option of providing a two-minute video alongside their conventional application used with their smartphone briefly highlighting why they think they should win an award. The closing date for entries is 14 April 2017.
Claire Morris of The College Farm who won the Farm School Partnership category in the Bayer FACE awards 2015 says it was incredibly satisfying to be given such a prestigious award from Bayer and FACE. “We were so chuffed that what we do was seen as special by outsiders – a real tick to say well done. And this in turn inspires us to carry on with more visits and to hopefully make them better and better.
“As for the award day itself, it was an amazing experience – to be looked after so well and to get the chance to meet other inspiring farmers and educators was a day never to be forgotten. We were treated like film stars!”
Previous winner of the Access Award Category Julie White of the WELLIES project, who took part in the Awards to raise awareness of the importance of care farming, encourages anyone to enter. “It was great for our volunteers, participants and partners all of whom were extremely proud of our achievement. Most importantly it gave us enormous credibility with referral agencies and funders. The awards ceremony was a lovely event and we felt very inspired by the other nominated farms and projects.”
The Bayer / FACE Awards is a highlight of our year, says Miss Turnbull. “It forms part of our Bayer FarmEd agricultural education programme and learning about the individuals who have such a significant impact on children’s countryside education, community wellbeing, and raising awareness of how much farming matters is inspirational. We hope that these awards continue to highlight the recognition that these farmers deserve.’’