Every primary school in Britain should be twinned with a farm to give schoolchildren a clear understanding of how food is produced, says TV naturalist Chris Packham.
The idea is one of almost 200 proposals made by Packham and 17 other independent wildlife experts in the newly launched People’s Manifesto for Wildlife, aimed at halting a British “ecological apocalypse”.
The manifesto states: "Children who grow their own fruit and veg and cook it are more likely to eat it: they will understand where it comes from, will feel a sense of achievement and will be excited to eventually see it on their plate."
There are currently 116 school farms in the UK, according to 2017 data held by the Royal Agricultural University.
Educational charity the Country Trust said farm visits allow children “to make informed decisions about the food that they eat” and “feel more responsible for their own and the wider environment”.
The People’s Manifesto for Wildlife also argues that trees in urban areas should be “named and owned by primary school classes in perpetuity to form lifelong bonds between people and trees”.
Mr Packham said the destruction of British wildlife had accelerated in recent years, which he blamed on intensive farming and the destruction of habitats. Farmland bird numbers have more than halved since 1970, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
A raft of other, more radical measures in the manifesto include replanting 180,000 miles of hedgerows and banning dogs from nature reserves.
Michael Gove, secretary of state for the environment, promised to consider the report.
He said: “Chris Packham and his colleagues have successfully motivated the public to get behind many of these issues. Through our schools we can develop the next generation of environmentally aware citizens, and ensure wildlife and the natural world is protected.”