Education programme to focus on fruit

Pilot learning scheme will teach children about the origins of food with study materials and trips.

Plans have been launched by the organisers of the National Fruit Show to develop an educational programme for children in school years five and six.

The Marden Fruit Show Society (MFSS) intends to appoint an education officer later this year, who will start to deliver to children a series of learning materials linked to key stages in the national curriculum.

MFSS chairman Sarah Calcutt, who announced the plans at the society's AGM in East Malling at the end of last month, told Grower: "We already have someone in mind for the role and have started discussions.

"The plan is to recruit six schools in Kent to take part in our pilot scheme. Course information will contain aspects of literacy and numeracy and health education, including nutrition.

"The whole idea is that there is a programme that can link into schools' existing health agendas. The children will learn about fruit as we educate them about where their food comes from. They will be able to go to the farms, and visit the packhouses and perhaps supermarkets such as Tesco.

"We have to take the industry to them. I firmly believe that you start to educate your consumers right at that level - then by the time they are buying and cooking for themselves they have got that information. We hope that it will eventually be rolled out across the UK."

She added that children would learn about all kinds of fruit - not just top fruit - because the MFSS plans to link up with the organisers of Kent's soft fruit show.

Calcutt said: "We will start by teaching children about dessert and cooking apples and then move on to pears, stone fruit and soft fruit."

Meanwhile, some of the dessert apples from the storage competition - which took place on the same day as MFSS's AGM - will be served to the 3,000 school children attending Kent's Living Land event at the beginning of May. The event will educate children in farming and healthy eating.

The winners of this year's Long-Term Farm Stored competition were:
- Blackmoor
Bramley and Cox classes
- W Gunyon
Pear class
- Loddington Farms
Dessert class

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