Some children think potatoes grow on trees and peas only come from supermarkets. The Year of Food and Farming, starting next month, aims to put them right
TRIPS TO farms come low on primary teachers' priority list, after museums, theatres and nature reserves. Bill Graham, chief executive of Farming and Countryside Education, wants to change that.
As part of the Year of Food and Farming starting next month, he wants every young child to have the chance of a farmyard experience.
"Some of the stories about children believing that potatoes grow on trees are true," he said.
"A study earlier this year showed that a quarter of children never visited the countryside and of the rest, almost half were driven through by their parents.
"Now, with the debate about obesity, there has had a revival of interest in where food comes from."
Mr Graham said his organisation has trained more than 800 farmers to cope with school trips. The three-day course covers health and safety, the national curriculum and communicating with children. Accredited farmers' details will feature on the Year of Food and Farming website.
"We're keen on schools adopting farmers so that the visit becomes part of a long-term relationship," Mr Graham said.
"Schools could start to grow their own food and get expert advice"
The magazine Farmers Weekly has launched a Kids Connect campaign aiming to "feed children the facts about food". Children can use the Kids Connect website to ask questions about farming and read blogs by farmers' children, and teachers will soon be able to find details of local farms.
Louise Bishop, the education officer at Barleylands farm near Billericay in Essex, has welcomed 58 primary schools so far this year, from north and east London as well as Essex, she said.
The farm has a classroom with capacity for 100 children in a barn converted into a discovery centre.
"Some children think peas come from supermarkets and it stops there," she said. "Children need to know where food comes from.
"Others think cows are horses."
Gillian Jones, head of Doggetts primary in Rochford, Essex, said their visit to Barleylands farm came at the end of a healthy eating drive.
"The children need to be more aware about what they are eating and where it comes from." she said.