Primary schools take part in Suffolk Farming School of the Year semi-finals at Trinity Park ahead of Suffolk Show final

Suffolk Farming School of the Year 2016 semi-finals. Sandlings Primary School looking at the JCBs.

Suffolk Farming School of the Year 2016 semi-finals. Sandlings Primary School looking at the JCBs. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

Around 100 pupils battled it out at Trinity Park yesterday to reach the final of the Suffolk Farming School of the Year competition.

Youngsters from five Suffolk primary schools took part in interactive workshops to learn more about animals and pig farming, such as sausage making and cooking.

Pupils also spray-painted pig arcs, found out about agricultural machinery used on pig farms and listened to a pig farmer describe the ‘farm to fork’ journey.

Organised by the Suffolk Agricultural Association (SAA), the competition, which this year is pig-themed, helps children to learn more about farming, where food comes from and how it is produced.

Children from Acton CEVC Primary School in Sudbury, the Ashley School Academy Trust in Lowestoft, Saxmundham Primary School, Easton Primary School and Sandlings Primary School, near Woodbridge, took part in the semi-finals.

The three finalists, due to be announced today, will compete in the final at the Suffolk Show.

Suffolk Show senior steward Bruce Kerr said: “Children have been learning about different breeds of pigs, the different cuts of meats and butchers. You can tell by the looks on their faces just how exciting it has been for them.

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“It’s important children understand where our food comes from; how it is produced; the food chain; salt contents; understanding milk and meat doesn’t just turn up at supermarkets – there is actually a cow or pig behind it.

“The information that the children have gathered will hopefully make them better consumers in the future, and the ultimate aim is to inspire them to consider becoming farmers. We can’t tell children at this age what they are going to do, but if we can spark that little bit of interest, then that would be wonderful, as farming is an important part of the Suffolk economy.”

Twenty-three primary schools in Suffolk took part in the first round, in which they designed and built pig models.

The three schools which progress to the final will deliver a presentation about what they have learnt to judges at the Suffolk Show, which takes place at Trinity Park on June 1 and 2.

The winners will be presented with a trophy from SAA president John Wall on the second day. Their original model pig designs will also be recreated on to one of the Pigs Gone Wild art sculptures appearing in Ipswich this summer.

Mel Geater, assistant principal of Easton Primary School, said: “This is the first year we have entered the competition and it has been fantastic. The children have learnt so much about farming and in particular pig farming.

“Pupils are now much more aware of where food comes from and the importance of farming.”

Easton Primary School pupil Jonny Bailey, seven, added: “I have really enjoyed it and I am now much more interested in farming than I was before – because I didn’t know it could be so much fun, like sausage-making or the JCBs.”

Bawdsey Primary School was named Suffolk Farming School of the Year 2015.

The Bawdsey team, which comprised 17 pupils in years 3 and 4, built a freestanding farmyard from recycled food packaging, encompassing energy, animals and a tractor, which they based on a visit to see an anaerobic digester at Rendlesham.

Reflecting on last year’s competition, year 3 and 4 teacher Helen Rankin said: “It was a fantastic experience for our pupils.

“Children researched anaerobic digesters and came up with solutions for any problems associated with them. They really got behind the idea of our farmers being able to make electricity for us and really understood the concept through the excellent hands-on experience.

“It was a really exciting final at the Suffolk Show. It gave the children an opportunity to express what they had learnt and perform in front of an audience. It gave them lots of confidence and we were delighted to have won.

“I wish all the schools the best of luck this year. We have a rolling two-year curriculum and cannot wait to enter the competition next year.”

Meanwhile, The Suffolk Agricultural Association (SAA) has donated 300 Suffolk Show family tickets to soldiers and airmen based in the region.

SAA show director Bill Baker yesterday presented the tickets to Colonel Jason Etherington, commander of Wattisham Flying Station. The tickets will be shared among personnel based at Wattisham Flying Station, Rock Barracks in Woodbridge and RAF Honington.

Military equipment and endeavour will again be among the highlights of the annual agricultural showpiece at Trinity Park on June 1 and 2.

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