In a joint venture by the Greater London Authority, the London Food Board and organised by FACE and the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Adopt a School programme, last week saw the first of a series of visits by London schools to nearby farms to learn about where their food comes from and the importance of eating fresh, healthy food.
The initiative aims to replicate the ‘Chef on the Farm' project, already successfully operating in West Midlands, with up to five farm visits in 2015 by schools based in two London boroughs, Croydon and Lambeth.
NFU horticulture and potatoes adviser, Lee Abbey, who attended the first visit last week said: 'We wanted to get involved in this initiative because it is a great opportunity to educate the next generation of consumers on the importance of healthy eating and, in particular, the vital role that fruit and vegetables play in the diet.”
Thirty two school children from Cypress Primary School, Croydon, spent the day at Secretts Farm in Surrey looking at, and sampling, its large array of fruits and vegetables and cooking up a hearty vegetable soup and mixed fruit salad.
Leading the tour were farm owners, Charles and Nicola Secrett.
“It was wonderful to see how enthusiastic and engaged the children were today,” Charles said.
“Without exception, they were eager to identify what we were growing and loved sampling the different fruits and vegetables. I'm sure they'll go away with a much better appreciation of where their food comes from.”
In charge of cooking was Birmingham based chef, Idris Caldora, who said: “I have worked with FACE on the Chef on the Farm programme for a number of years because I feel passionate about the need to educate children on eating fresh and healthy foods.
“They're always surprised just how easy it is to prepare a healthy meal and it is especially rewarding for them to be able to cook using the food they've just seen on the farm. That is why this programme works.”
It was clear the children agreed. The soup and fruit salad were lapped up and they all departed with a chorus of thankyou's and smiling faces.
“The food was great,” Lee said.
“The children did a great job and hopefully they'll be asking Mum and Dad for more of the same when they get home.”
The initiative will continue with up to four more school visits in the new academic year and, if successful, it is hoped will be rolled out to other boroughs in the New Year