Around 57,000 young people have now learned something about farming and the countryside over two decades of Kent County Agricultural Society’s (KCAS) Living Land exhibition.

This year’s event at the Kent Showground saw another 2,800 children from school years 3 and 4 enjoy a free day of education in food, farming and the environment when it celebrated its twentieth year on 2 May.

This annual event offers primary school children an introduction to agriculture, horticulture and the countryside through hands-on activities, engaging displays and the chance to talk directly to experts from across the agricultural industry and rural community.

With support from the Kent Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs, children met a range of farm animals including pigs, goats and alpacas and learned how livestock are reared for food and animal-based products. The animal zone also featured dog displays and heavy horses as well as a working milking parlour and sheep shearing demonstrations, while the moving machinery display saw R W Crawfords and Tuckwells and Hope Contractors demonstrate straw baling.

The society’s general manager, Nikki Dorkings, said: “We are delighted to have welcomed another 2,800 pupils and their teachers to the Kent Showground this year. Living Land, now a cherished tradition in Kent, offers Year 3 and 4 classes an immersive opportunity to delve into the agricultural industry, discover the origins of their food and explore rural traditions within their county.”

Chairman Julian Barnes said KCAS was “thrilled to be celebrating 20 successful years of Living Land”, adding: “This event is a testament to the enduring importance of agricultural education and its impact on future generations. It inspires us to see so many young minds eagerly engaging with the wonders of our countryside.”

Ashleigh Yates, who attended the event as a year 4 student, is now studying for a degree in agriculture with animal science at Harper Adams University, supported by a KCAS Kent rural scholarship. She said: “Living Land opened my eyes to the rural world around me and gave me the opportunity to get hands on with different aspects of agriculture.

“It kickstarted my interest in the industry, a passion that has carried on throughout the years and massively influenced where I am now, from joining young farmers and showing livestock at the Kent County Show to beginning my degree in agriculture.”

Countrystyle Recycling was one of the Kent businesses that took part in the event, joined by colleagues from FGS Agri, FGS Organics, enVar and Verigreen, all companies that are part of Kent-based Heathcote Holdings.

Pupils were able to start growing sunflowers by filling seed pots with compost created by enVar, as well as trying their hand at litter picking. An art competition saw pupils create recycling themed pictures, with ten to be selected and displayed on the sides of Countrystyle Recycling waste collection lorries later this year.

Martin Heathcote, chief executive of waste group Heathcote Holdings, said Living Land was important “because it helps children make the connection between how we use the land to generate food alongside the need to ensure that we do everything we can to protect it”.