Children follow food from field to the fork

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MORE than 1,600 first school pupils will be making their way to Wooler for the annual Glendale Agricultural Society’s Children’s Countryside Day.

This year, the focus of this giant outdoor classroom on June 9 will be Grow Eat Grow.

The day, the largest educational event of its kind, aims to show children from both rural and urban backgrounds the contribution which farming and rural life make to all our lives.

As soon as the topic was announced, the GAS was inundated with applications and there is now a waiting list for places.

So far 43 schools are taking part, including for the first time eight from more populated areas such as Amble, Bedlington, Guide Post, Blyth and Cramlington.

Project manager Sarah Nelson said: “We are delighted to be welcoming even more children to Glendale this year.

“The idea of the 2011 event is to show the diverse range of food we produce in Northumberland from crops to livestock to feedstuffs and food products.

“The theme of Grow Eat Grow will teach children why we need to grow food to eat so that they can grow and develop.”

The Wooler showfield will be transformed into an interactive learning centre with an enormous number of interactive displays and exhibits.

This will be the first time that many of the children have chance to see how their food is grown close up so there are sure to be a few surprises.

The emphasis will be on healthy British food and the society hopes to have an area dedicated to showing the children how they can grow this themselves at school or at home in their garden or even in pots and window boxes.

Along with a variety of livestock, they will also see how these raw materials are transformed into the end products with which they may be more familiar such as ice creams, cheeses and sausages.

The displays are all staffed voluntarily by local farmers, food producers, landowners and organisations including the Lilburn Estate Farming Partnership which hosts the event. Between them they give children chance to see a whole host of rural activities with pupils able to learn about auctioneering, dry stone walling, fly fishing, butchery, sheep shearing, stick dressing and wool spinning.

Shilbottle First School is among the schools who attend the event.

Headteacher Angela Jefferies said: “The children really enjoy seeing and experiencing all the events as it raises their awareness of the countryside all around them.

“It is such a well-organised day and children learn valuable lessons about caring for animals and wildlife. They also learn about the cycle of life on a farm. It is a fantastic day.”