When does a chicken become a turkey? Believe it or not this question didn’t come from a chid but a teacher talking to a poultry farmer in the East Riding some years ago.
Later this month the Driffield Agricultural Society launches its first ‘Education Day’ and chief executive David Tite is hoping that it will go some way towards enlightening the younger generations about where food comes from.
“There’s still a massive lack of knowledge. Kids still think potatoes grow on trees; they don’t know that crisps come from potatoes or how lettuce is grown; milk comes from supermarkets not from cows.
“We have run education events over the years as part of the Society’s remit and in the past that has been with secondary schools, but for this education day we are working with pupils aged between seven and 11-years-old. We have 20 schools coming and there will be over 700 schoolchildren on site.”
The East Riding is a hotbed for arable crops and that means some of the farm machinery kit used is particular to the area. David sees this as a useful way of explaining how far down the track that innovation in farming has come.
“We’re going to be showing and involving the children in the concept of horse power. We’re starting off with a donkey, then showing them agricultural horses, tractors of various ages and finally a Challenger.
“As the schoolchildren walk down the line they will be asked how many horse powers are represented by each. This way they will better understand why farm machinery is the way it is today.
“It’s all about putting the information on an easy-to-understand level.
“In the main show ring we will have heaps of activity including a modern combine harvester with its arm moving and header spinning, plus an older combine to show the difference in technology but we won’t be getting over technical.
“There will be an explanation that the combine will harvest the size of this showground in say 47 minutes. That kind of knowledge gives some form of perspective. We will also have a round baler showing how it works, plus many other items of machinery.”
Harvesting is just one element of farming but showing schoolchildren where raw produce leads to helps their understanding. This is why David’s team are also running a part of the day that they have called ‘Farm to Table’.
“We have a great guy called Alan Porter who will be running it. We will be showing the core ingredients and also how they link with products on shop and supermarket shelves.”
Pigs, cows and sheep will be onsite along with other animals.
“We’ve come up with 40 ‘bases’ for the day and that means each child will probably spend at the most about eight minutes at each so we have to get messages across in an informative but also fun manner for them to stick.
“We have a local dairy producer coming to give a milk demonstration, showing what can be done with the raw product whether that is milk, cheese, yogurt or any other product and we have what we’re calling our ‘Wool Experience’ including sheep shearers and spinners working on the day.”
David believes that greater education of where food comes from, farming and rural life is where Driffield Agricultural Society has an important role.
“We already run a successful Young Growers Challenge that we launched in 2007. Schools from right across Hull and East Riding enter a box of produce grown in their school garden and compete against each other at Driffield Show. That helps with learning more about growing produce and we’re going to be running a mock auction where hopefully everyone can have a laugh at buying someone, while also getting used to one aspect of livestock.
“We’re running sheepdog and gun dog demonstrations and we will have police officers here explaining how such as Farm Watch schemes help with the safety of machinery and livestock.”
Driffield Agricultural Society members will be acting as volunteers and stewards for the day. David is delighted with the response, saying: “Everyone here understands how important it is to create a better understanding of food and farming. I’m grateful for everyone’s help so far.”
Driffield Agricultural Society’s Education Day will take place on Tuesday, May 24. Anyone wishing to volunteer or steward at the event can contact David Tite on 01377 257494.