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From plot to plate

Two projects aim to advance children's awareness of food production. Bernard Adams reports

Helping children connect the burger on the plate with the cows they see in the fields, or the cherry in their pie with fruit that grows on trees is the aim of two new national initiatives.

Next year, 25 National Trust properties will offer a wide variety of events and workshops that will celebrate local food production.

A good example of what's on offer can be found at Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire. The 18th-century house has a home farm which has links with schools. All the food at Wimpole Hall comes from the farm, and the restaurant offers sausages, lamb burgers and beef-cakes made from animals reared there. The two-acre kitchen garden's crop includes sweet-corn, pak choi, chard, gherkins, chicory, endive, kohl rabi and 60 varieties of tomato.

Elizabeth Woodward, the National Trust's food and farm learning officer, says: "This is a fantastic opportunity to engage children with the work of National Trust farms and gardens. We want to give people the chance to learn about gardening, farming and nutrition in an imaginative and informative way."

Calke Abbey in Derbyshire, the 18th-century Physic Garden - now a working kitchen garden - will offer a Hungry Caterpillar trail. Hanbury Hall in Worcestershire, which has a working mushroom house dating from 1860, will have herb lunches and lectures. And at Llanerchaeron in Wales children will have a chance to plant a wide range of fruit and vegetables in a walled garden.

The second initiative is supported by the Department of Health and the Department for Education and Skills. They have commissioned the National Farmers Union to find school projects that develop children's knowledge of food, farming and nutrition. They hope the scheme will establish "growing clubs" in inner-London schools. If the pilot is successful, it will go nation wide. The NFU wants to hear from schools that already have fruit and vegetable growing projects or want to learn more about food production on farms.

NFU Email Tel: 01427 728293.National Trust:

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