The Ulster Farmers’ Union, in partnership with Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend and Asda, are challenging school pupils across Northern Ireland to “Dig In!” to life on the farm and in the countryside by putting their creative skills to the test.
The comments were made as the UFU launched its annual schools competition. Open to all nursery, primary, and special schools this year’s theme relates to the UFU’s food and farming education resource “Dig In!”, which encourages pupils to learn more about food, farming, and the countryside.
UFU deputy president, David Brown said, “The aim of the schools competition and ‘Dig In!’ is to get school children thinking about farming and where their food comes from. Both offer an opportunity for teachers to start the discussion in classrooms about the importance of food and farming in Northern Ireland. Allowing children to learn more about how farmers work hard to produce the delicious, healthy food on our tables and the many ways we look after the countryside everyone enjoys.”
Brown said every year competition judges are impressed by the number and standard of entries for the schools competition. “We would encourage all schools and teachers to participate, in what is a very worthwhile competition,” he said.
The UFU are pleased to have competition sponsor Asda on board for another year with a range of prizes up for grabs for the lucky winners.
Joe McDonald, ASDA NI Corporate Affairs Manager said: “Asda are proud sponsors of the school’s competition again this year. It is great to see competition entries grow each year and the standard is excellent. It is important to create an awareness of where our produce comes from and this competition is a great opportunity to do so, educating children on the ‘farm to fork’ story.”
Now in its eighth year, Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend (BOIOFW) is the perfect partner for the schools competition and the “Dig In!” resource. As part of their prize, each schools competition category winner receives free transport for their class to the nearest participating BOIOFW farm and all competition entries will be on display throughout the weekend.
However, Brown said schools don’t need to be competition winners in order to take advantage of the opportunity to visit real, working farms. “This free event showcases Northern Ireland’s world-class ‘Farm to Fork’ journey and gets school children, and their families, out on the farms to see where their food is produced. The weekend underlines the importance of supporting local producers to benefit the rural community and wider economy in Northern Ireland. BOIOFW this year is on the 15th-16th June and I would certainly encourage all schools to consider organising a trip to a local participating farm on the schools day, Friday 14 June,” said the deputy president.
Entry forms have been sent to all nursery, primary and special schools. The closing date for entries is Friday 5 April 2019.