YEAR OF FOOD AND FARMING

How does the food on our plate get there and where does it comes from?

Young people in the Cotswolds are being encouraged to discover the answers to these questions and find out much more about what we eat through a national campaign that has just been launched and will run until next summer.

The Year of Food and Farming will involve everyone in the food chain - from farmers and food processors to chefs and restaurant owners - in order to capture children's imagination about food and the way it is produced.

It gives schools throughout the Cotswolds the chance to put food on the curriculum in an exciting way through hands-on learning experiences for pupils of all ages.

Thanks to the participation of the food and farming industry, the youngsters will find out how food is grown and produced through visits to farms and food processing plants, growing their own crops as school projects and learning from culinary experts.

The campaign is designed to spread the culture of eating healthily - and make students aware of career opportunities in agriculture, the food processing industry and catering sector.

Cotswolds-based celebrity chef Rob Rees, a former member of the Cotswolds Conservation Board, has helped to shape the Year of Food and Farming menu of events in the South West region.

Rob will also be visiting primary and secondary schools as well as colleges in the region - many of them in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) - as part of the campaign.

He said: "I will be showing young people how to cook locally sourced, good quality food. However this is not domestic science. It is an effective way of adding value to the curriculum.

"My demonstrations of cooking and preparing food will be linked to other subjects such as maths."

Rob added: "I have been involved with schools for some years in order to educate young people about good eating, and I'm sure that the Year of Food and Farming campaign will be an effective way of promoting that culture.

"This academic year is the food and farming industry's real opportunity to engage a whole new generation with its work, products and people."

An impressive array of farms, businesses and individuals in the Cotswolds AONB are supporting the Year of Food and Farming which was launched on 12th September at the Highgrove estate of Prince Charles who is the scheme's Patron. Local schools were involved in the launch event at the Duchy Home Farm.

Other farms and businesses within the Cotswolds AONB that will be organising events to give children a close insight into how local food is produced and cooked include:

Chef 4 Schools - organised by Gloucestershire Tourism Skills Network.

A team of 14 chefs trained by Rob Rees will be offering schools in Gloucestershire cookery demos that add value to the curriculum.

Cheltenham Children's Services will hold cookery demonstrations on 12th October supported by Gloucestershire Food Vision.

Kraft Health 4 Schools programme will continue its award winning project with 100 schools in Gloucestershire involved in cooking, eating, growing and active play.

If you want to keep up with all the events, a Mega Map for each region in England shows all Year of Food and Farming activities by farms and businesses that have registered their support on the site.

By logging on to www.yearoffoodandfarming.org.uk teachers can quickly select the most suitable entries in their area.

John Lee, Chairman of the Year of Food and Farming in the South West, said:

"The main point of the campaign is to involve children of all ages in understanding where food comes from and look at the whole food chain.

"The key aim is to provide an ongoing legacy that among other things will encourage healthier lifestyles and good nutrition, increase interest in careers in the food and farming industries and develop a greater appreciation of the importance of the countryside and environmental issues."