East Sussex Children Connect With The Countryside
East Sussex pupils joined 2,300 children from over 50 schools in Surrey and Sussex in Ardingly recently, to connect with the countryside and discover where their food comes from. Pupils visited The South of England Showground from East Sussex schools Barcombe CE Primary School, Blackboys CE Primary School, Burwash CE Primary School, Cuckmere House School, Fletching CE Primary School, Framfield CE Primary School, Grovelands Primary School, Hamsey Primary School, Harbour Primary School, Newick CE Primary School, Parkside CP School, Pells CE School, Plumpton Primary School, Polegate School, Robsack Wood Primary Academy, Sacred Heart School, Seaford Primary School, St John’s CE Primary School, St Leonards CE Primary Academy, Stafford Junior School and Wivelsfield Primary School.
The South of England Agricultural Society is celebrating its 50th year of supporting farming, agriculture and the countryside in the South of England and has now welcomed 27,300 year 5 and 6 children to this annual event, which started 12 years ago.
Each year, more than 100 volunteers from the South of England Agricultural Society and over 50 organisations and exhibitors give their time and support for free to help youngsters connect with the countryside.
Four special zones include 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 and discovering how honey, sausages, bread and cheese are made; and two Wildlife and Recreation zones also offered important countryside topics, such as nature conservation, forestry and countryside sports such as fishing.
The Sheep Show, including sheep shearing, a Pony Club display, a Birds of Prey demonstration and countryside crafts, including making corn dollies, also delighted the children.
Caroline Garland, Deputy Head and Ruby Murphy, teacher at Polegate School said: “This is our first time at Connect with the Countryside and the fact that this is a free event is fantastic. Many of the children have never experienced anything like this before, coming from the outskirts of Eastbourne, and it’s a great opportunity for them to learn about the countryside.”
Said Maddie Bowers, teacher at Southway Junior School, Burgess Hill: “It’s a lovely day; it’s so nice that they can go around the zones and enjoy hands on activities.”
Philippa Croucher, from Wisborough Green Primary School said: “I really like the concept of this day; it’s so important for urban schools who don’t usually have access to the countryside.”
Said Tessa Courtney Bennett who teaches at Sacred Heart School in Hastings: “This is our first time here and we are loving it. We had a great time with the livestock and the children can’t believe they are being encouraged to get up close and touch everything!”
Paul Harrington, who is a teacher at Carden Primary School, Brighton, said: “This is our third visit and we all love it. We are situated next to the countryside in Brighton but many of the children don’t experience it. It’s often their first encounter with rural life and I hope that some of them might consider some of these pursuits in the future. What I love most is when some of the children in my class, who are usually very cool and at the age where they are preparing themselves for secondary school, suddenly melt when they get here, and it really brings out their inner child.”
The Reverend Mark Betson, chair of the Society’s Education Committee, said, “This day is a fantastic opportunity for school children to become excited about what the countryside offers, from food to recreation and everything in between.”
Its aims are to showcase agriculture and the countryside through annual shows and to serve the rural community by providing educational grants, awards, bursaries and scholarships for people involved in agriculture, horticulture and land based industries.
For more information on the South of England Agricultural Society, its annual shows and educational programme, visit www.seas.org.uk