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Science - In the spotlight

Farm Academy Programme

Farm Academy Programme

What is it?

A two-year scheme run by the Soil Association with 10 London schools. It aims to teach pupils about where their food comes from through visits to organic farms and farmers' markets.

What will it offer?

Over the next year-and-a-half schools will visit organic farms and take part in a range of activities to develop their awareness of food and farming. They will then be encouraged to set up their own termly school "farmers' markets" in which they can sell their produce.

How did it come about?

Over the summer, pupils from Jubilee Primary and Sebright Primary in Hackney and Poplar Primary in Merton each spent four days on an organic farm, taking part in a variety of activities - from making cheese to keeping hens and growing and harvesting vegetables. They are now liaising with local producers to hold their own farmers' markets - with a mixture of food produced by local farmers and sometimes home-grown or home-made fare from the schools.

Who will use it?

At present, all schools enrolled on the scheme are primaries, but the success of the programme means it is now being extended to secondaries. As well as providing opportunities for pupils to learn about farming, the programme helps to support small local producers. It offers an opportunity for pupils and members of school communities to meet the farmers behind fresh food.

What they say about it

Rupert Aker, head of learning at the Soil Association, said: "The Farm Academy Programme is a fantastic scheme because everyone involved benefits. You see a real difference in pupils as they learn `on the job' about farming, animal welfare, food growing and cooking."

Anything else?

There will be three schools farmers' markets this month - taking place between 3.15pm and 5pm.

Friday 14 October: Jubilee Primary School, Filey Avenue, Hackney.

Tuesday 18 October: Poplar Primary School, Polar Road South, Merton.

Thursday 20 October: Sebright Primary School, Audrey Street, London.

Find out more about school farmers' markets on the Soil Association website: http:www.soilassociation.orgschoolsschoolfarmersmarketstabid731default.aspx

Helen Carey is co-ordinator of the London schools farmers' markets. She is blogging about the scheme. Read her posts at: http:www.soilassociation.orgWhyorgaicBlogstabid1244default.aspx

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