Farming News - Over a fifth of children aged 6-11 don’t know what a harvest is

Over a fifth of children aged 6-11 don’t know what a harvest is

08 Oct 2020
Frontdesk / Arable / Livestock

Jordans Cereals

“What’s a Harvest?” New research finds children are disconnected from food and farming

The UK’s first ever virtual Harvest Festival on 9 October aims to bridge the gap

  • Over a fifth (23%) of children aged 6-11 don’t know what a harvest is.
  • 1 in 10 believe carrots originate in a supermarket.
  • Just 7% aspire to be a farmer when they grow up, while a fifth (21%) want to be celebrities.
  • Almost a quarter (24%) think zebras, penguins, giraffes, tigers, elephants and wombats are found on UK farms.

A new survey from Jordans Cereals has found that children are more disconnected than ever from the farming traditions that keep them fed. Over a fifth (23%) of children aged 6-11 don’t know what a harvest is and 1 in 10 (11%) have never visited a farm. 

But as schools struggle to adapt to Covid-19 restrictions, the traditional Harvest Festival that helps connect children to their food is off the menu. That’s why The Wildlife Trusts, Eco-Schools and Jordans Cereals have joined forces to organise Harvest Festival LIVE on Friday 9 October to celebrate the landscape that provides not just the food we eat, but also the nature that helps to sustain us.

Craig Bennett, CEO of The Wildlife Trusts, comments: “Harvest is an wonderful opportunity to celebrate food with children, to talk about where it comes from and the role that nature plays in keeping us fed. Harvest Festival LIVE will bring today’s children one step closer to life on a farm and open their eyes to the incredible diversity of wildlife that makes its home there.

Nature is under threat from loss of habitat and climate change; our goal is for Harvest Festival LIVE to celebrate biodiversity and explain why it is more important than ever to protect our land in ways that allow wildlife to thrive. We work in partnership with Jordans farmers, creating a nature recovery network spanning over 4,200 hectares, and Harvest Festival LIVE will showcase this vital work.”  

The concept of a harvest festival dates back to Victorian times, with the earliest recorded thanksgiving service taking place in Cornwall in 1843. Now, 177 years later, schools are being invited to take part in a digital celebration hosted by pop star JB Gill from JLS and involving farmers, teachers and children from across the UK to champion nature-friendly farming.  

Mia Hartwell, Sustainability Manager at Jordans Cereals, explains: “Harvest is a really special time of year, not just in the farming calendar but also for schools up and down the country who usually gather together to celebrate the food our farmers produce and the nature that makes it possible.

While coronavirus continues to prevent schools from bringing large groups of children together, we were determined to find a way to mark this important milestone and bring the countryside to the classroom.”

The virtual Harvest Festival will include drone footage of an oat harvest on a Jordans farm – but many children are unaware of how cereals are grown, with nearly a third (27%) assuming it takes just three weeks for the oats to ripen, when in fact it’s five to six months on average. 

This disconnect extends to other food groups, with 1 in 10 primary school children (12%) claiming carrots originate in a supermarket, and a third (33%) having never grown their own food. 

Pop star and farmer JB Gill – one quarter of Noughties boy band sensation JLS – is hosting Harvest Festival LIVE on 9 October. JB says: “As a farmer myself, I know all too well how much work goes into growing and producing food, and the importance of farming in harmony with nature

The annual Harvest celebration is a brilliant opportunity to teach children where their food comes from, and the journey it makes from farm to fork. My own children have the privilege of growing up on our family farm surrounded by animals, and I hope this event will convey some of the wonder and joy they experience when they are immersed in nature.”  

In addition to the event itself, schools and home learners can access a range of educational resources and take part in an Eco Schools poetry competition, titled How Nature Helps the Harvest.

Lee Wray-Davies, Eco-Schools Manager, adds: “We understand that schools are facing a myriad of challenges this term, and we hope that providing a virtual Harvest Festival will mean they have one less thing to worry about. Schools and home learners can access a range of resources and take part in an exciting poetry competition to win the chance of hearing JB Gill read their poem to the nation.”

The Jordans Farm Partnership is pioneering a food and farming system that encourages nature to thrive, supports livelihoods and local communities and has public health and wellbeing at its heart.

Jordans farmers practice wildlife-friendly farming techniques to provide food, shelter and breeding sites for endangered species such as barn owls, brown hares, dormice, turtle doves and woodlark.

One such farmer is Guy Tucker, based in Hertfordshire, who will feature in Harvest Festival LIVE. Guy has planted wildflowers, established grass margins, restored hedges, introduced crops to feed wild birds and sowed pollen and nectar rich areas – all providing vital habitats for wildlife. Since becoming an oat supplier for Jordans, a farmland bird survey has revealed record numbers of linnets and bramblings on his farm.

Harvest Festival LIVE will be streamed live on YouTube at 10am on Friday 9 October from both Jordans Cereals and The Wildlife Trusts YouTube channels. To get involved, visit www.jordanscereals.co.uk or follow the conversation online on Instagram.