Devon’s Farmwise Event: Educating the Future Generation on Agriculture

Students seeing the piglets at Farmwise event. (Image: Devon County Council)
Students seeing the piglets at Farmwise event. (Image: Devon County Council)

Devon’s Farmwise Event: Educating the Future Generation on Agriculture

Thousands of eager students from Devon descended upon Westpoint Exeter for an enlightening day of agricultural exploration.

The Farmwise event, now in its illustrious tenth year, offered over 1,500 children an invaluable opportunity to delve into the intricacies of farming, from the origin of produce to the final products on their plates.

The sprawling event grounds were abuzz with young minds absorbing insights into the entire food production process. Animals roamed, creating an interactive learning environment featuring cows, pigs, and sheep, captivating the young audience.

Organised by the Devon County Council (DCC) in collaboration with the Devon County Agricultural Association, Norse Group, and Mole Valley Farmers, Farmwise united farmers, food producers, and professionals from various land-based industries across Devon.

The event was meticulously divided into twelve sections, each focusing on key aspects of agriculture, ranging from vegetables, fruits, and arable farming to forestry, environmental consciousness, and the dairy sector.

Practical activities abounded, allowing students to participate in every stage of production. From cooking sessions to flour and pizza-making, the creation of essential products like rape oil and flowerpots, to the hands-on experience of pressing apple juice and churning butter from fresh cow’s milk, the students were fully immersed in the agricultural process.

Among the many engaging activities, students had the unique opportunity to simulate lamb delivery, using a specially designed sheep simulator and a cuddly toy coated in a gooey substance.

Additionally, they crafted sausages, fashioned wildflower seed bombs, and picked apples, providing them with a holistic understanding of the diverse elements involved in food production.

Deborah Custance-Baker, Chair of Farmwise, expressed her delight at the event’s success.

It’s wonderful to be back to our full capacity for Farmwise 2023.

“We had 1500 children on site from a total of 30 schools across the county.  We know that children are lucky enough to get to experience many days out, but this one always seems to be a firm favourite amongst pupils and teachers alike.

“It is wonderful for them to get up close and be able to feel so many different aspects of food production.  The children have always got wide smiles on their faces as they get stuck into the activities, which means they’re not just learning about farming and rural life, they’re genuinely enjoying the experience, too.  And that’s surely what successful learning is all about.”

The enthusiasm among the students was palpable. As they actively participated in the various activities, their beaming faces reflected the genuine enjoyment they derived from the experience. It was a testament to the fact that successful learning transcends the classroom.

The event saw the presence of key figures, including DCC’s Chief Executive Donna Manson, Council Leader John Hart, and Council Chair Percy Prowse, alongside DCC’s senior leadership team.

Council Leader Hart emphasised the importance of hands-on experiences in educating children about the origins of their food.

“It is great fun, but it’s also important for children to have the chance to see, touch and smell the things that our farmers are producing.

“We want to educate, but we also want to inspire children to learn more and take an interest in where the food they see on their shelves at home, or in the shops and markets, comes from.

“We do this twice a year, as well as this event we go to the County Show.  But some of our tenant farms also encourage school visits during the year to give children a chance to see for real the work that they do.”

Farmwise 2023 proved to be an invaluable educational experience for Devon’s young learners, providing them with an immersive understanding of agriculture. With its continued success, the event promises to play a pivotal role in inspiring future generations to appreciate and engage with the vital world of farming.


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