21 December 2022
LEAF Education trebles training and support for growers, while offering curriculum-linked learning to children.
LEAF Education, which works to engage, inspire and motivate the next generation of young people to become involved in, and aware of the agricultural industry, has experienced a surge in interest from the education sector wanting to know more about where their food comes from over the past year.
As a result, the agri-education organisation has trebled the amount of training and support it offers to growers.
LEAF Education’s mission is to engage, inspire and motivate young people through experiential learning, to equip future generations with a balanced and informed insight into food production, growing and the environment. It is the education arm of sustainable farming organisation LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) which works with many potato growers, industry suppliers, retailers, scientists and consumers to inspire and enable sustainable farming that is prosperous, enriches the environment and engages local communities.
In the past academic year, LEAF Education has engaged with more young people, teachers, and schools on-farm and in the classroom than ever before, with the number of students benefiting from the organisation’s work doubling since before the pandemic and a near seven-fold increase in engagement with Key Stages 4 and 5 students.
Through its partnership with Farmer Time, which connects growers with schools to learn more about life on a farm where visits are not always possible, schools and growers have been paired, engaging with thousands of children, and offering a multitude of learning hours.
Writing the foreword to LEAF Education’s impacts report, HRH The Countess of Wessex GCVO, Honorary President of LEAF says: “The question of how we feed ourselves, protect our fragile planet and enrich our natural environment has never been more urgent or more vital. Sustainable food production is now rightly at the forefront of our society’s collective attention. The call from future generations for us to reach for a world that is not only sustainable but nature positive and climate positive is getting louder.”
Over the past 12 months, LEAF Education has grown substantially, with a new LEAF Education Programme Manager, four full-time Regional Education Consultants and an Education Support Coordinator. The growing team enables it to continue to meet the rising demand for, and interest in, its work from schools, young people, and the agricultural industry.
LEAF’s Director, Education and Public Engagement, Carl Edwards, said: “This year’s report highlights how many more of us, particularly young people, want to have a deeper connection to how our food is produced. It shows how a growing number of people understand the benefits of the natural environment to our wellbeing, are keen to become more conscious consumers and recognise the contribution they make through their food choices. Ensuring our young people are equipped with balanced and informed insights into food and farming is the first step in meeting these shared objectives.
“The LEAF Education Team and particularly our network of Regional Education Consultants working throughout England and Wales, are incredibly proud to see the positive attitudes, questions, and thirst for knowledge amongst all the young people we work with. We are grateful to them all and to all our farmers and industry partners who continue to support our work and go out of their way to support our future generations.”
LEAF celebrated its 30th Anniversary at Ragley Hall on May 2022, with celebrations led by HRH The Countess of Wessex GCVO. Pupils from Our Lady’s Catholic Primary School in Alcester, a LEAF Education Demonstration School, spent the day with The Countess participating in a range of activities including sessions tasting LEAF Marque certified potatoes and other produce.
Currently LEAF Education has 15 Demonstration Schools across England which it is looking to double next year. Throughout 2022 LEAF Education has honed the quality of the training and support so it is relevant to the National Curriculum, whilst taking account of the demands placed on teachers.
Farming Fortnight, which took place in June, offered a range of resources and materials on growing, food production and the natural environment, supporting teachers in delivering inspiring lessons and activities.