Chef on the Farm

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Countryside Classroom partners work together on specific initiatives which help children and young people to learn more about food production and farming.

children cooking outside with a chef (LEAF Education)
(LEAF Education)

A long-standing and highly successful project is Chef on the Farm, a joint venture between LEAF Education and the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Adopt a School Trust. It provides an opportunity for a class of children to visit a farm, to meet the farmer and to learn about what is grown and reared on the farm and then to learn to cook with a professional chef. The project fulfils the aims of both organisations through collaborative working. Adopt a School bids for funding and once this is secured, LEAF Education works through its Regional Education Consultants (RECs) to find and match schools and farms where sessions will be held. Adopt a School then provides culinary expertise through its chefs.

children chopping vegetables (LEAF Education)
(LEAF Education)

On the day of the visits, the pupils, who wear aprons and chefs’ hats provided by Adopt a School, are initiated by chefs who are experienced in working with children in basic cooking techniques which might include knife skills and food preparation as well as cooking and presentation. Close supervision is always in evidence so that the children can work independently or in small groups.

Alongside this, they experience a farm tour to learn where their food comes from and carry out a number of on-farm activities. Each visit is tailor-made to suit the type of farm and what is grown and reared there. Again, experience is on hand as the farmer is involved to answer all the children’s questions.

A very important part of the day is lunchtime when the class sit together to share the meal they have prepared. This is a very experiential occasion where participants are encouraged to try foods they might not have eaten before. It is also a time to practise the pleasure of communal eating which is often overlooked in an era where eating on a tray in front of the TV might be the norm for some children.

children learning about vegetables (LEAF Education)
(LEAF Education)

Responses from sessions are overwhelmingly positive. Teachers and other accompanying adults as well as the children themselves often comment on how much they have learnt. They also have the chance to observe the children in a different environment and to note their responses and reactions to this.

“It has really helped encourage some children to try new food and experiences.”

“As a result of today’s encouragement, we want to give more opportunities for food preparation in school and with parent/home tuition.”

Children themselves almost always enjoy the chance to cook and take pride in food preparation skills which many want to take back home to share with families. They acquire self-confidence and skills of teamwork, time management, following instructions and social interaction.

“Learning to cook made me smile.”

“The whole day taught us about healthy eating and what is good for our bodies.”

“I learnt that we must be patient and not rush because that’s when we have accidents.”

Currently, the programme is running in the North West and the West Midlands.

For more information about this collaborative project, contact

Janet Hickinbottom MBE, National Education Officer, LEAF Education

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Posted On: 14/01/2022

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