EXHIBITORS, school parties and special guests will gather at the Royal Cornwall Showground on Wednesday, March 20, for a groundbreaking event designed to give young people a better understanding of the links between farming and the food they eat.
That many of today's young people – even in a rural county like Cornwall – are ignorant about farming is a worry to government, employers and the food and agricultural industry at large.
There is a growing number of young adults in the same situation so two leading rural and food-oriented organisations in Cornwall have come together to address the problem.
The Royal Cornwall Agricultural Association and the Cornwall Food and Farming Group have the same aim in organising and promoting this day – to bridge the widening gap between rural reality and public understanding.
Farm & Country is a dedicated food and farming discovery day for schools which brings together schools, food producers, farmers and rural organisations.
Hilary Wood, of CFFG, says the response has been both enthusiastic and eye-opening.
"We have more than 600 children arriving from schools around Cornwall and an impressive range of exhibitors and demonstrators from the farming and food-related industries.
"All too often we are made aware that children do not know where their food comes from – when asked, a common answer is 'the supermarket'.
"It throws up questions on a range of issues – such as healthy eating, an understanding of rural issues and the importance of the farming industry."
RCAA secretary Christopher Riddle believes the Farm & Country Day will initiate a serious discussion and will raise awareness of the core issues.
"In a rural county such as Cornwall, particularly, where farming has always been a way of life for so many, we can see the lack of understanding developing rapidly.
"As an association of well over 200 years' standing, it has always been our aim to promote knowledge and appreciation of farming and this is a modern take on that process, relevant to today."
Aimed at seven to nine-year-olds, the event will give children hands-on experience of farms and farming.
In the exhibition hall on the showground there will be exhibits of farm machinery which are likely to raise a few questions – including a combine harvester, plough and tractor and a dung spreader.
Livestock in residence will include dairy and beef cows, sheep, pigs, laying hens, hatching chicks, ducks and ducklings.
Food processors and producers will be showing and/or demonstrating butter-making, sausage making, pasty crimping shearing, wool processing – even the importance of IT in farm management.
There will be fun stuff, too: dressing up as a vet, hunting for (pretend) parasitic worms in dung, lambing a ewe (models) – and there will be information on farm and food-related resources for teachers. Children will also have the chance to taste lots of food and drink including apple juice, cheese, ice cream – even raw vegetables.
"It's a learning day first and foremost but I think it's also going to be a lot of fun," said Mr Riddle.
Dawn Coryn, of St Merryn, will be taking dairy cattle to the event.