Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and the Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET) are today (12 November) adding weight to their campaign to encourage more Scottish livestock farmers to host visits by local school children.
RHET, which has a target to reach one in four children by 2020, currently has over 150 livestock farmers who willingly give up their time to welcome school children onto their farms. The aim is to give children a better understanding of farming life and learn first-hand where food is produced and how it travels from the farm to their plate.
Livestock and arable farmer Colin Lowrie has supported the RHET schools programme for the last couple of years and this week he welcomed a group of primary 2 children from Ormiston Primary School onto his 660 acre mixed farm in Humbie.
“So many children have very limited access to the countryside in Scotland,” said Mr Lowrie. “If we want children to know where their food comes from and how to make the right choices when they buy their food as adults, then we need to teach them now how their food is produced.
“It’s a pleasure to host these visits and see how enthusiastic the children are to learn about farming and of course the management and care which goes in to the production of livestock in Scotland.”
QMS chairman, Jim McLaren, has hosted a number of RHET food and farming days, most recently for 120 school children at his farm, Dargill, near Crieff, this summer. “The red meat industry in Scotland has such a great story to tell - from our world-leading assurance schemes which guarantee welfare and quality - to the range of careers available.
“It is therefore vital that farmers make time to help educate young people who have often never visited a farm before and, of course, are our next generation of consumers,” said Mr McLaren.
One of the latest recruits to the programme is RHASS director James Grant-Suttie who farms at Balgone Estates, North Berwick. He held a visit for a group primary 3 children from North Berwick Primary School earlier this year.
“I would recommend anyone interested in taking part in this important initiative to get in touch with RHET,” said Mr Grant-Suttie.
“The visits are really valuable as by attending these farm visits, young people gain a great understanding of farming which they wouldn’t necessarily get if they were looking at a book in the classroom.
“It is very rewarding seeing the young people go away having had their eyes open to something that they perhaps didn’t know too much about before they came on the visit.”
Alison Taylor, Acting RHET Education Manager, said: “As RHET continues to grow and with ambitious plans for the future we are looking for new volunteer farmers to help Scotland’s young people understand where their food comes from and how it gets to their plate.
“Volunteers can give as much or as little time as they can manage, and new host farmers are very welcome. RHET covers all the risk assessment requirements and liaises with the schools to assist farmers in carrying out this worthwhile work.”
Farmers interested in hosting school visits should contact RHET on 0131 335 6227 or email:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caption: James Stevenson (6) from Ormiston Primary feeds a calf during the RHET farm visit. James is joined by fellow pupil Jenna Purves (6), farmer Colin Lowrie and Karen Valentine, RHET Lothian Co-ordinator.