In this blog post, Future Farmers of Yorkshire member and East Yorkshire pig farmer Kate Moore – pictured – explains how easy, powerful and rewarding it is to connect with schoolchildren as part of the Farmer Time initiative. Having seen how well it works first-hand, Kate thinks other farmers should consider getting involved too.
I have just come into the office after a video call with children at Washingborough Academy. It was our first call since they returned to school and I have to say I have missed it.
When I originally signed up to LEAF’s #FarmerTime initiative, I thought I would be inspiring the children, but the reality is that these amazing pupils are inspiring me too. In the current climate, who doesn’t need a regular dose of inspiration!
‘My family farm and how Farmer Time works for us’
I am a pig farmer in East Yorkshire, just north of Driffield. My sisters, Vicky, Rachel and myself run the business, with my Mum and Dad slowly stepping back.
We have 1,700 indoor breeding sows and then we take all the progeny through to slaughter on third party farms. We also buy in weaners and store pigs and so in total, produce around 70,000 pigs a year for the food chain.
I have been involved in the family farm for 15 years now and my sisters and myself are all extremely passionate about educating people about where their food comes from and how its produced.
Vicky and I are both paired up with schools and have been taking part in #FarmerTime right from its launch.
Matching farms with school classrooms as part of the curriculum, it is a fantastic initiative that any farmer can take part in.
You really do not need much time, as the calls can be as long or short as you agree with the teacher. These calls are used to literally show the children what you are doing there and then.
I try and work with what they are studying, to reinforce their learning with real life examples, but to be honest I have a young class and they are just so excited to see anything at all that I tend to let them lead the conversation and direction.
‘We can unlock access to farming’
It is easy to take for granted what we see and do every day, but for some children and teachers they have never seen what happens on the other side of the farm gate and it really is so rewarding seeing their faces and hearing their questions – some of which challenge me and I have to come back to them!
Because I’m a pig farmer, calls normally cover questions about genetics, animal welfare, reproduction (this can be a hard one to answer), food, the environment and the list goes on.
In total last year, Farmer Time sessions between farmers and schools represented 10,800 learning hours, with the average call lasting 18 minutes and taking place once a fortnight.
We can have a major impact, without even leaving the farm.
I strongly believe every arable and livestock farmer should sign up to this initiative, as it’s not just about answering questions, it’s getting children and teachers to see what farming is all about.
What’s more, hopefully we will inspire children to join the industry, at a time when we would benefit from a diverse agricultural workforce.
‘No better time to get involved’
With so many school trips and visits being postponed, there could not be a better time to digitally connect children with their food and where it comes from.
It is also an easy way to get the word out about how important it is to support British farmers.
More details: For further information about Farmer Time and how to get involved, either as a farmer or as a school, see www.leafuk.org/farmertime/home
About us: Future Farmers of Yorkshire was launched in 2010 to bring together like-minded farmers, vets and industry professionals. Organising a programme of debates, socials, workshops, farm walks and industry visits for our 1,000 members, it is supported by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org
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