In September 2006, Country Life published its manifesto, with the second item being ‘Implement countryside classes in schools’. This statement prompted much debate, and today sees the launch of the Year of Food and Farming, which will enable children to visit farms and explore the countryside.

The campaign’s patron is Prince Charles. It is a Government-led initiative involving the National Farmers’ Union, (NFU), the Country, Land and Business Association (CLA), and many others. It will run until June 2008.

The Year of Food and Farming aims to educate children on where food comes from and how it is produced, with thousands of hands-on visits to farms being organised.

NFU President Peter Kendall said today in a statement: ‘This country’s farms are one of the greatest educational resources we’ve got, and we have not been making the most of them ? This isn’t about children learning that milk doesn’t grow on trees, important though that is. What it is about is using farms to explain and explore all sorts of issues to do with health, the countryside, climate change, how we feed ourselves and what that means for the environment.’

Tony Cooke, Programme Director of the Year of Food and Farming, recently said: ‘It’s exciting to see our plans begin to come to fruition, as we work to transform the way the countryside is viewed in and out of the classroom. If everyone in the food chain gets behind this campaign, teachers will have literally thousands of ways to give young people first-hand experience of how their food is produced.’

Another feature of the campaign is a teachers’ pack for both primary and secondary schoolchildren, which contains information about the countryside and backs up the farm visits. It has been produced for the NFU by the independent educational charity, Farming and Countryside Education (FACE), and over 5,000 packs have been distributed to schools since the end of June.

‘This Year is for children’ said Mr Kendall. ‘But it is important for farmers and growers as well. We need to promote agriculture and horticulture as clean, kind, caring? and vitally important industries, and where better to start on that than with the consumers of tomorrow.’

The Year of Food and Farming is launched today.