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Farmwise Devon

Fun events for children to find out more about farming in Devon

Why are the choices we make about what we eat and when we eat it important?


Using this guide

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Scheme of work 3

An outline plan – for adaptation as required by schools. Supporting resources are also available.

Geography

  • Describe and understand key aspects of land use and the distribution of natural resources including food production locally, nationally and globally
  • Describe and understand a range of economic activities
  • Undertake an investigation of a relevant topic or issue in the local area
  • Understand the importance of the functioning of natural systems

Science

  • Describe the differences in the life cycles of a mammal, an amphibian, an insect and a bird
  • Construct and interpret a variety of food chains identifying producers, predators and prey

Mathematics

  • Use appropriate graphical methods such as pictograms, pie charts and bar graphs to interpret and present discrete and continuous data and to solve problems
  • Begin to decide which representations of data are most appropriate for different data sets and begin to explain why.

Learning and teaching activities and curriculum progression

Some suggested key questions and activities for teachers to work through with their pupils.

1. What are food miles (or food kilometres!)?

Explain to the children that people in Britain import (buy from other countries around the world and bring it back to our country) 40% of all the food we eat.  Spend time revisiting examples of foods which are grown in Devon and the UK and foods which come from other countries before moving on.  Now ask the children to consider how food from overseas reaches the UK – road; train; sea and air.  Explain that if we know where a food product has been grown or produced in the world then we can calculate the total number of food miles of any meal we eat.

To illustrate this the children can access the spreadsheet in Resource 1.  Here the children can alternate their choices of five elements of a meal: drink; main course; type of potatoes; vegetables and a dessert to see the huge variation in the number of food miles that accumulates for their chosen meal.  Challenge the children to decide on the five elements of a meal which will have the most and the least number of food miles.  What choices increase and reduce the number of food miles?  This will begin to establish the two principles of eating locally produced foods and foods that are in season.

A more sophisticated food mile calculator is at www.foodmiles.com/results.cfm. In preparation for this activity encourage the children to bring in a wide range of food packaging and labels that show a country of origin, they have saved during the previous week at home. Then using the calculator above they can input the three variables of your location; country of food product and food item to calculate both the distance travelled and a satellite map showing the route taken by the selected food from the producing country to the UK.

Now to make the link between food miles and carbon dioxide emissions show the children the film in Resource 2. This film was made by secondary school pupils at Exmouth Community College as part of the East Devon District Council Food 4 Thought Project. The Carbon Café which features in the film calculates the kilos of CO2 generated from different food products from around the world.  Encourage a follow up discussion after the film to pursue issues such as why it is better for the environment to eat fruit and vegetables from the UK when they are season (and doing without them for the remainder of the year) rather than importing them during the months when they can’t be grown here.

The food we consume in the UK travels a total of 30 billion km a year from ‘farm to fork’ and this is responsible for 19 million tonnes of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere every 12 months.  This is 17% of the UK’s entire carbon dioxide emissions!

In 2013 Britain released 464 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from the following sources:

Source %
Energy production e.g. electricity 38%
Industries and businesses 16%
Transport (including moving food) 25%
Public services (including schools) 2%
Residential (our homes) 18%
Farming 1%

Divide the children into groups of three.  Each of the children can represent the data above using a different graphical method: a pictogram, a pie chart and a clustered bar graph. When all three children have completed their graphic encourage them to discuss which method is most effective in conveying the information to someone who might be looking at all three for the first time and may not know much about the issues of food miles and carbon dioxide emissions.  Within the class is there a general consensus about which of the three is most suitable?

Before moving on take time to generate a summary discussion with the children and in particular asking them to consider the following two questions in the light of what they have learned:

If we try to eat more food produced on local farms in Devon and the South West and try also to eat more seasonal food how will that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and also support the local economy?

Key Question 2: What happens at a farmers market?

Show the children the photographs in Resource 3.  As they look at the photographs ask them to describe what they can see and explain what they think is happening. How are these places different from normal shops and supermarkets? How many different food products can they see being sold? Who do they think are selling the products? They are all pictures of local farmers’ markets. There are almost 30 farmers markets throughout Devon.

Using an atlas or wall map of Devon and the outline map in Resource 4 support the children to label, in its correct position, each of the farmers’ markets.  Ask the children to consider why people might choose to go to a farmers market in Devon rather than to a supermarket to buy food? How many reasons can they think of?  Encourage feedback and make a list on the whiteboard. Things to encourage the children to consider:

  • You can buy your food directly from the producer at a Farmers Market, and this enables you to ask as many questions as you like about her or his produce
  • You are supporting the local economy i.e. local farmers when you buy from Farmers Markets
  • You can ask for samples, recipes and preparation information
  • The produce from a Farmers Market is often tastier than from supermarkets because it is fresher as it comes straight from the farm
  • It’s much more fun than shopping at a supermarket and there is often a really enjoyable atmosphere
  • It provides some farmers with their livelihood, and without these Farmers Markets they would not be able to farm.

Much of the learning here can be extended by organising a visit to the Farmers Market closest to the school.  If contact is made with the organiser and the farmers in advance then the children can undertake a range of activities such as a survey of the products being sold at the market and of the location of the farmers selling them. Where in Devon are the farmers from? If they can locate all of the producers on a map the children can then calculate the food miles involved for each producer and calculate a total for the whole market! How would this compare with a similar exercise at the local supermarket?

4. How do farmers in Devon conserve the environment and encourage wildlife?

Show the children all of the images in Resource 5. Tell the children that all of the photographs were taken on farms. What do they show? The children will be able to identify hedgerows, ponds, oak trees in fields, woods and wild grass field margins left around fields. Explain to the children that as well as producing food which is a fundamental need for us all, farmers in Devon are also responsible for looking after the land and the wildlife that lives there. This will include things such as maintaining and looking after hedgerows (and planting new ones); ponds and lakes that might be present on the farm (and creating new ones); conserving woods and trees (and planting new woodland) and leaving strips of wild grassland around fields (called field margins).

Divide the children into six groups and allocate to each group one of the following wildlife habitats that are commonly found on Devon farms:

  • Oak trees
  • Hedgerows
  • Ponds
  • Rivers and streams
  • Woodlands
  • Field margins

First encourage the children to discuss and speculate as to what kind of wildlife they would be likely to find living in their habitat. Take feedback and create a summary on the whiteboard. Next the children can be supported to research their habitat in greater depth with each member of the group producing a different example of a food chain to illustrate how plants and animals are connected within it and in particular identifying producers, predators and prey. The following online resources will provide a starting point for this exercise:

Oak trees

woodlandtrust.org.uk/trees-woods-and-wildlife/british-trees/a-z-of-british-trees/english-oak/trees/english-oak

Hedgerows

devonwildlifetrust.org/habitats/farmland/hedgerow

http://www.hedgelink.org.uk/abouthedgerows/wildlifeimportance

Ponds

devonwildlifetrust.org/habitats/freshwater/ponds

Rivers and streams

devonwildlifetrust.org/habitats/freshwater/rivers

wildlifetrusts.org/habitats/wetlands

kids.nceas.ucsb.edu/biomes/freshwater.html

Woodlands

devonwildlifetrust.org/habitats/woodland

wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife/habitats/woodland

Field margins

devonwildlifetrust.org/habitats/grassland

rspb.org.uk/our-work/conservation/conservation-and-sustainability/farming/advice/managing-habitats/field-margins/

Download a copy of the pdf of the scheme of work No. 3 (please note some weblinks have changed since this document was originally published – the ones on this page have been updated according)

Supported by Devon County Council