A YOUNG FARMER from the Herefordshire border spoke about the importance of showing school children what life is like on a working farm.
Ernie Richards, who farms on the Herefordshire border at Craswall, near Hay-on-Wye, took part in video calls with Year Four pupils at a school in Exmouth, Devon.
It is part of Farmer Time, an initiative founded by Cambridgeshire farmer Tom Martin and coordinated with LEAF Education, an organization that aims to engage, inspire and motivate children about food production, farming and the environment.
The initiative brings agriculture directly into the classroom and means children can learn about farm to fork and the diverse and ever-changing agricultural industry.
The children regularly chat live with Mr. Richards from their classrooms, discussing ideas, asking questions, sharing knowledge and gaining a ‘real-time’ understanding of the issues farmers face on a daily basis.
He works as a shepherd for the Morris family in Wernoog, living there with his girlfriend Anna and their young son Harry.
There he helps manage the 1,000 Pedigree Lleyn ewes on the 150 hectare prairie farm.
Now managing a pure herd, Mr. Richards sells up to 300 yearlings each year and produces top quality lambs by selling them at dead weight for maximum return.
Speaking about the Farmer Time initiative, he said: “I think engagement and education are so important in telling the farming story.
“Giving children the opportunity to get a glimpse of rural life and ask questions is a very valuable learning experience.
“I strongly believe that sharing the realities of farming and allowing children to see what farming entails can inspire them to fully understand where their food comes from.
“The British countryside is a wonderful place, and I think everyone should experience it, and understanding why and how farmers manage the landscape is crucial.
“We need to inspire young people, involve them in education to help them understand the field to fork process, the positive links between farming and the environment, and the countless career opportunities in British agriculture. ”
Mr Richards said that since signing up for Farmer Time in October 2020, he had had several video calls with his class.
He said they’ve all been engaging and enlightening, and mostly involve an organized question and answer session where he tells the class what I’m doing that day. As farming is very seasonal, my goal is to follow the shepherd’s calendar, highlighting all the important events that I encounter as a sheep farmer,” he said.
“I’ve already shown the class the elements farmers face, from wintry weather to my trusty sheepdogs in action and highlights of the lambing season.
“I also showed the shearing class, the wool product and the processes involved in producing British lamb.
“The sessions are very effective and engaging, which is great to see.
“After most calls, the class teacher and I will discuss the next Farmer Time session, and we often come up with a new idea to keep the class inspired.”