The Essex Agricultural Society event – hosted at Writtle University College near Chelmsford and supported by Essex County Council – gave the Years 4, 5 and 6 pupils the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of farming, food production and the countryside.

The show area was divided into five zones – Machinery, Crops, Livestock, Countryside & Environment and Food – with a host of exhibitors inspiring pupils with their displays, demonstrations and interactive activities.

The event gives schoolchildren – some of whom have never visited a farm before – the opportunity to see how the Essex countryside works and meet those people who are responsible for its management and sustainability.

Rosemary Padfield, chair of the event’s steering group, said: “Our aim is for the children to gain a greater understanding of how their food reaches the table and the work we as farmers do to protect and nurture the countryside. As the children passed through the five zones at this event, they saw the whole food cycle – from sowing the seed to the plants growing, and the end use in food production.”

The event was the first for Professor Tim Middleton, new vice-chancellor of Writtle University College, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. He said: “We were delighted to host over 3,000 primary schoolchildren at the Essex Schools Food and Farming Day.

“Staff and students worked with hundreds of farm and food business volunteers to provide a day that showcased the rich variety of work that goes on across the county and helped children understand the journey from farm to fork.”

Pupils were given the opportunity to explore the link between food and farming, meet animals close-up, and get involved in a range of exciting activities. At this year’s event, they were able to have a go at pressing oils, milling grain and making smoothies; hear the thunderous roar of a combine harvester at a machinery demonstration; see sheep being sheared and find out how farmers are helping to sustain wildlife.

The exhibits were based on links to the National Curriculum, offering an enjoyable and educational experience to pupils, with teachers encouraged to build it into subjects such as Science, History, Citizenship, ICT, Literacy, Art & Design and Geography.

Sharon Shosanya, aged 10, from Montgomery Junior School in Colchester, said: “I’m really looking forward to seeing how you get milk from cows because I normally drink a lot of milk!”

Phil Holton is a teacher at the school. He said: “A big part of our curriculum is about children being able to understand where their food comes from and this event sets them up really well for it. This is my fourth time at the event – the animals and farm machinery are always particularly popular with the children!”

Ten-year-old Tia Booley, from Great Leighs Primary School, said: “We have seen lots of livestock and farm animals, turkey eggs and alpacas. It’s really cool!”

Lily Anne Walsh, 10, also from Great Leighs Primary, added: “My favourite thing has been the alpacas. I’ve enjoyed looking up what their wool is used for.”

Photos: Paul Starr. ©Writtle University College