Farm School: Call for farmers to sign up for ‘Farmer Time’ amid rising demand
Farmer Time is a new scheme launched to encourage school children to develop a better understanding of where their food comes from and the lives of farmers. The scheme has been so popular that there is now a significant waiting list of schools looking to connect with farmers across the UK. This shows the demand for educational farm diversification opportunities, such as farm school and the like. Farmer time is a great way for farmers to get involved without having to host schools on their farms. However, it also presents an ideal opportunity to develop relationships with local schools which could lead to further diversification opportunities including running farm school days, lambing events or even trips into schools to talk about farming. For more educational farm diversification ideas check out this blog.
Farmers are being encouraged to sign up for an educational initiative that allows schoolchildren to be taught about food and farming via live video calls. Farmer Time, spearheaded by charity LEAF Education, allows pupils to gain a real-time, year-round understanding of farming and the food supply chain.
Due to its success, over 230 teachers representing nearly 7,000 children are now waiting to be paired with farmers. The Farmer Time team is calling on more farmers to get involved to help inspire future generations about farming, food production and the environment.
Farmer Time has connected 742 teachers, or over 22,500 children, with farmers since the initiative began in 2016, according to a new report released on Friday 15 October by LEAF. It says that 100% of farmers and teachers enjoyed the experience, and 90% of farmers felt their paired class gained a better understanding of the food supply chain.
Farmer Time has been pioneering a new approach to agricultural education for more than four years by bringing farming directly into classrooms through live video calls. The initiative has also seen a rapid global expansion with international partners in Sweden, Finland, the Republic of Ireland and as far afield as Australia and New Zealand.
Director of LEAF Education Carl Edwards said: “It is never too early to start talking to children about farming, to spark their interest, to ignite their sense of wonder and to share the realities of how their food is produced. Farmer Time is transforming the way we connect our future generations with farming and empowering them to make healthy sustainable food choices.”
But organisers say they need more farmers to sign up. “We have over 200 schools – that’s over 6,000 children – waiting to learn more about our industry,” Mr Edwards said. “We are encouraging any farmer, who can spare twenty minutes a fortnight and has a good internet connection, to be part of something truly amazing.”
Cambridgeshire farmer, Tom Martin, who founded Farmer Time, urges farmers to give it a go, calling it a ‘fantastic way to reach out to the consumers of tomorrow’.
“Any farmer can take part – it doesn’t cost anything, just your time and willingness to reach out,” he said. “Just talking to children, answering their questions and seeing their genuine interest in what farmers do is hugely rewarding.”