LEAF Education Director, Carl Edwards, explained: “There has never been a more critical time to harness the strength of feelings our young people have for the future of their planet. This competition addresses issues they care most about – climate change, sustainability, environmental protection, health and nutrition and climate change. By providing young people with first-hand experience of farming, food production and opportunities for more in-depth, critical analysis around current farming issues, our aim is to raise their awareness of the importance of farming in their everyday lives and its role in addressing the climate and ecosystem emergency.”
The farm visits for competition semi-finalists, which take place with LEAF’s team of Regional Education Consultants, will see students being asked to answer a farming related hypothesis using their experience on the farm, combined with wider research, and present their response. The recorded presentations will then be judged, and finalists will be invited to bring up to three students and two teachers to a weekend at Coleg Cambria Llysfasi in beautiful North Wales in the Vale of Clwyd – an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. At the end of the weekend, one school will be crowned the ‘Innovation School of the Year 2021 in Food, Farming and Environment’. The finalists’ weekend will take place from the 22 – 24 October 2021.
The finalists’ weekend will be made up of fun and educational activities based around the college farm. The college farm is 970 acres and is a mixed enterprise commercial farm, which includes a dairy herd, sheep, beef, crops and forestry. The college also has an Animal Management Centre and an industry leading Agricultural Engineering workshop and latest tractor and machinery technologies. Throughout the weekend, students will milk cows, handle sheep, drive a tractor and gain an insight into the role of drone technology in food production. Students will also visit the agri-forest, see countryside management in practice, and experience the driverless technology used by the agricultural industry.
Launched in 2019, out of the 33 students who have taken part in the competition, 12 have gone on to apply to study at land-based colleges. All students reported that it had ‘positively changed their perception of the farming industry’ and that it had ‘helped them with their studies back at school’.
Elin Roberts, Assistant Principal of Technical Studies and site lead at Llysfasi, said: “We are proud to once again be working in partnership with LEAF Education for the third annual Innovation School of the Year for Food, Farming and Environment competition. It provides a fantastic opportunity for students to gain first-hand experience of farming, whilst also highlighting how vital it is as part of the climate crisis solution.”
Entries open on 26 March 2021 and close on 16 April 2021. The semi-finalist schools will be announced and contacted by 30 April. Semi-final farm visits will take place at a convenient time to suit the school, including a travel bursary (where necessary) between May – July 2021. The finals weekend will take place 22 – 24 October 2021.
More competition information can be found here and to enter the competition click here