Two thousand three hundred children aged ten and eleven, from over 50 schools across Sussex and Surrey, visited the Ardingly Showground in July to discover more about where their food comes from and all aspects of rural life.
At the ninth Connect with the Countryside Day, pupils and their teachers had a brilliant day in the sunshine gaining a better understanding of countryside issues, thanks to over 100 volunteers from the South of England Agricultural Society and the generous support of over 50 organisations and exhibitors who gave their time and support for free.
Mrs Vicky Wright, a teacher from Harbour Primary School in Newhaven, said: “The children are really loving it and I’m loving it! Its very informative and it’s also a lot of fun. The children have learnt so much and it was lovely for them to also watch the horse riding while they ate their lunch.”
Said Sarah-Jane Smith, a TA from Harbour Primary, “The children haven’t seen a lot of animals and here they’ve been able to hold them, feel them and really understand better where their food comes from.”
Said Mrs Rachel Lewis, a teacher from Hamsey Primary School near Lewes, “This is my first time at this event and it’s fantastic! Even though our children are from the countryside, they’re learning a lot about where their food comes from, different animals and it’s a great day out and curriculum enrichment at the end of the school year.”
Said Mrs Joan Rusling, from St Matthews Primary in Redhill, “We love it here! We came last year and we know the children get so much out of it, so we’re here again. They don’t normally get to meet animals in this way and it’s a really nice end of the year for them before they move on to senior school.”
Four special zones included Livestock, where children met a range of farm animals, from Sussex Beef bulls to chickens; Horticulture and Food, where children learnt about healthy food, tasting local tomatoes and peppers, fresh milk and honey and discovering how sausages, bread and butter are made; and two Wildlife and Recreation zones also offered important countryside topics, such as nature conservation, forestry and countryside sports.
The Sheep Show, including sheep shearing, a Pony Club display, a Birds of Prey demonstration and countryside crafts, including making corn dollies and weaving with locally spun wool, also delighted the children.
Said Derek Cleaver, the Society’s Education Committee, “This day demonstrates the very essence of the South of England Society and our work to help educate young people about the countryside and farming.
“We were delighted to offer some new experiences for the children this year and to see so many of them getting really hands on and thoroughly enjoying all the activities our brilliant volunteers organised for them – today has been a huge success and we look forward to building on it further next year.”
To sign up your Year 5 or Year 6 class for next year, contact Debbie Wood at firstname.lastname@example.org