Hundreds of farmers and schools are pairing up as part of a project that uses digital technology to inspire and educate children about farming.
‘Facetime a Farmer’ has paired 300 farms and schools so far, reaching 9,000 children and providing 10,800 learning hours, according to a new impact report.
Started by farmer Tom Martin in Cambridgeshire, the initiative is co-ordinated by Leaf (Linking Environment and Farming). It allows children to see beyond the farm gate, learning about where their food comes from and the challenges farmers face every day.
Fortnightly video calls between farmers and schools via Facetime or Skype, offer children the chance to discuss, ask questions and gain real-time information from farmers. The project has so far attracted farmers from a range of sectors, from arable and livestock to fish farming and cut flower and herb sectors.
One farmer said: “What better way to communicate with the next generation of consumers than to go live into their classroom. Children are so used to tech these days that Facetime is very natural for them and it offers a window into a world that most of them would never see otherwise.”
James Farrell, head of rural consultancy at Strutt & Parker, which sponsors the scheme, added: “With everything going on around the Agriculture Bill, and the change in the way farming is funded in future, there has never been a more vital time to inform the public about all the good work that farmers do.
“It helps to address the notable disconnect between agriculture and an increasingly urbanised population’s knowledge of the industry and the crucial role it plays in producing food, managing the countryside and supporting local communities.”
The scheme has proved to be a hit with teachers and farmers alike, with all those involved so far choosing to take part again next year. Teachers say it has given their students a better understanding of the food supply chain.