Farmers talk to 20,000 in ‘Talk to a Farmer’ week

Earlier this month, 20,000 Scottish school pupils were given the chance to ask farmers how they produce food and look after their animals.

This interaction was all thanks to the Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET), in partnership with e-Sgoil, who delivered the ‘Talk to A Farmer’ programme of sessions via the DYW (Developing the Young Workforce) Live platform.

Talk to a Farmer was the brainchild of RHET, whose role is to enable more school children across Scotland to learn about food, farming and the countryside. The best way to achieve that is to allow children to interact directly with farmers, either on farm visits or via virtual platforms and events such as Talk to a Farmer.

The 27 volunteer farmers involved all come from RHET areas across Scotland, from Donald Ross in the Highlands to Alistair Hodge near Duns in the Scottish Borders. School pupils tuned in to ask questions of beef, sheep and pig farmers, dairy farmers, and arable farmers growing cereals, using anaerobic digestors to generate electricity and even planting pumpkins for Halloween.

Mr Constable from Kirktonholme Primary passed on his thanks to RHET for the talks, and said: ‘All the children enjoyed learning where food come from on farms. Great that the farmers were women and men and they learned what life is like on the farm.’

Angela Mill of Shawsmill Farm, Auchtertool received more than one hundred questions, ranging from ‘How long is a cow pregnant for?’, to ‘How do you help animals stay healthy?’ and ‘How old is your farm?’

Angela commented: ‘The quality of the questions indicated that the schools had engaged well and were really interested in what we had to say. It’s great to know what so many people are keen to learn more about what we do.’

Katrina Barclay RHET’s executive officer said: ‘We are delighted with not only the uptake from schools during each live session, but the feedback we are still receiving from teachers and the wider farming community on what an important and informative event RHET ran.

‘My thanks to all the farmers who said “Yes!” to our plea to help us run something new and innovative for our charitable work. Although we are organising farm visits for schools, we appreciate logistics may prevent teachers getting out of school. What better way than to bring the countryside to the classroom in such an interactive way!’

Mrs Lannagan from Cockburnspath Primary School said: ‘We loved the live farmer sessions. They could not have come at a better time for us as we are studying a topic about where our food comes from, eating seasonally, local farming and sustainability.

‘It is a fun way to learn about farms and where our food comes from. It is also really interesting to see how different farms work and to see how farms are working to help save the planet. Watching the live streams are enjoyable as we can ask questions and the interactivity was the best point.’

RHET plan to deliver more sessions using this platform and the sessions delivered during March are all available to view at https://e-sgoil.com/farmers-week/

The Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET) was established in 1999. It provides free resources, farm visits and classroom speakers which allow children to learn more about Scottish farming, food and countryside.

RHET currently interfaces with around one in eight of Scottish schoolchildren through twelve local Countryside Initiatives. RHET takes over 16,000 children out to farms each academic year and provides more than 28,000 children with a classroom speaker talk.

It is run as a charity and receives its core funding from the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS). Other operating costs are covered by grants and funds from a number of trusts, companies and funding organisations, including the Scottish Government.