21st April 2011

Campaign Launched to Urge More Scottish Farmers to Host School Visits


Former Miss Scotland and Miss UK, Katharine Brown, had her first experience of lambing during a visit to a Borders sheep farm to support a new Scottish campaign to encourage more farmers to host school visits.

Miss Brown, who is also an ambassador for Quality Meat Scotland, joined S3 pupils from Eyemouth High School during a visit to Crosslaw Farm near Coldingham, run by Douglas Allan and family.

Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and the Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET) is this week launching the campaign to recruit an additional 50 Scottish livestock farmers to host visits by schoolchildren.

RHET currently has around 150 livestock farmers who willingly give up their time to welcome school children onto their farms and tell them about the management and care which goes in the production of livestock in Scotland.

Douglas Allan has supported the RHET schools programme from its launch around 12 years ago and each year welcomes local pupils onto his 630 acre upland farm, which is divided between arable and grass. At this time of year he and his wife Judith and sons, James and Stephen, are busy lambing their 650 Scottish Mule ewes.

Despite the hectic spring workload, Mr Allan and family were delighted to welcome the children onto the farm.

“It is really so important for the children, who are our consumers of the future, to be able to come onto a farm and see for themselves what farming is all about and where their food comes from,” said Mr Allan.

Accompanying the 20 children were Caroline Lathe, a teacher at Eyemouth High School, and Lesley Mason, RHET’s Borders Co-ordinator.

“The opportunity to get out and visit a farm like this is absolutely fantastic and the children get loads out of the experience which is relevant to a range of different subjects from horticulture and geography to biology,” said Ms Lathe.

“Even those children who live in the countryside and see livestock in the fields every day too often have never actually been onto a farm and have very little understanding of what farming is all about so when farmers like Douglas take time to welcome visits like this the opportunity is invaluable.”

QMS chairman, Jim McLaren, said: “Quality Meat Scotland is delighted to be supporting RHET to encourage more livestock farmers to open their gates to school visits and ensure they have an understanding of the work and care which goes into Scottish livestock production which is underpinned by world-leading assurance schemes to guarantee welfare and quality.”

Mr McLaren, who is set to host a RHET food and farming day for 120 school children during the summer term at his farm, Dargill, near Crieff, added: “While there is undoubtedly a trend for fewer farmers and stockmen to look after larger numbers of livestock it is vital farmers make time to help educate the young people who are our next generation of consumers. There is no doubt these visits can help to close the gap between town and country and perhaps inspire them to consider a career in our industry too.”

Alison Motion, RHET Education Manager, said: “We are delighted to be working with QMS to involve new farmers in RHET’s programme. Our farmer volunteers are our lifeblood and we could not get involved with schools without them. The chance for children and young people to visit a farm and see where their food comes from is an incredibly valuable experience and may influence what they buy for the rest of their lives.”

Farmers interested in hosting school visits should contact RHET on 0131 335 6227 or email: rhetinfo@rhass.org.uk

 Caption: Katharine Brown (centre) pictured with host farmer, Douglas Allan, and RHET borders coordinator, Lesley Mason, and pupils from Eyemouth High School, Jessica Cooke and Kyle Varley.


Sign up for the latest news and views