School caterer ISS Education arranged a series of farm visits for pupils from London Borough of Lambeth in September and October. They visited Collings Hanger Farm in Prestwood to learn about where their food comes from.
As well as providing over 600 schools with healthy meals, ISS focuses on creating added value opportunities to enhance the curriculum around healthy eating and well-being. They run a variety of events and activities for schools they serve, including cooking clubs, nutrition talks, food education events and gardening days. Earlier this year ISS was invited to Collings Hanger farm by the Soil Association, to experience the farm. Following a successful trip, ISS set up three visits for pupils from Julian’s Primary School.
ISS has catered for 10 schools in South Lambeth since 2014, and in that time has achieved the Food For Life Gold Served Here award for the contract. Provenance is an important part of the award standards, with focus being on local and responsibly sourced ingredients. Trips like this enhance the message pupils see each lunchtime in their school dining room.
Catherine Osborne, Phase Leader for Year 2 & 3, Julian’s Primary School said: “Children from Year 2 at Julian’s Primary School enjoyed a fun-filled day at Colling’s Hanger Farm where they ground wheat to make flour, went on a tractor ride, fed pigs apples, met and pet sheep and tasted different root vegetables grown on the farm. There was a buzz of excitement the whole day, especially when they were allowed to run free across two huge fields.”
Hassane Taleb, Food Ambassador for Southwark & Lambeth, ISS Education said “The children really enjoyed the farm visit, and now they have greater understanding of the food provenance, and the way it’s journeyed from farm to fork. Life lessons are not always in the classrooms. They had great fun, as they ran up & down the fields, fed the animals, milked the wooden cow, tasted a variety of organic fruits & vegetables grown there and milled the organic wheat to make flour.”
Giving children the opportunity to experience farm life is important to ISS. Many children may not have had the opportunity to see edible plants and animals before they hit the supermarket. Showing children the connection between farming and the food on their plate provides them with a greater understanding and respect for what they eat.
Farmer Virginia runs farm visits from March to October. The farm is run as an organic mixed enterprise, so there are a variety of different types of agriculture for children to see including livestock and crops. Pupils are able to interact with the animals, pick fresh vegetables and mill flour. During the summer months, the tour includes a pizza making session using ingredients grown on the farm and picked by the visitors.
Virginia Deradour, Wren Davis Ltd, Collings Hanger Farm commented: “The children are my future customers and it is so important to re-connect the children with where and how their food is produced and the standards we maintain on the farm.”
ISS hopes to bring more schools to visit next year and experience this important lesson on provenance and food production.