From 8th February 2022 farmers and growers in Kent, Sussex, Hampshire, Surrey and IOW can apply for up to £7,725 a year to help educate children and young people about farming and food.
The Countryside Stewardship (CS) provides financial incentives for farmers, woodland owners, foresters and land managers to look after and improve the environment. One element of the scheme is encouraging educational access.
In the past, only ‘higher tier’ applicants could access the funding for educational visits but in 2021 this was opened up to ‘mid tier’ applicants too. However, data from Defra shows very few of the newly eligible farmers applied.
Charity, the Country Trust works with farms and schools across the Southern Farmers region as part of their mission to connect children with the land that sustains us all.
Emily Munn is a coordinator for the Country Trust working across Kent & Sussex. She is urging farmers to apply while the government funding is available. She says:
“We bring local farmers, growers and schools together through farm visits. With our help, these visits are hugely beneficial for young people and for our ‘host’ farmers. This is an opportunity to give children the opportunity to discover where their food comes from and why it matters.”
Who can apply for the funding?
- Farmers applying for higher tier and mid tier Countryside Stewardship are eligible to apply for education access payments
- They can access £309 per farm visit hosted up to 25 visits a year
- Existing claimants may also be able add the educational access payments if they haven’t already received their agreements
- Farmers cannot claim Educational Access as a standalone item – though the Country Trust continues to push for this.
Colin Chappell is an arable farmer in Lincolnshire who joined the Country Trust as a host in 2017. Aware of the growing disconnect between farmers and the public, he approached the charity to help bridge this gap and discovered there are many other benefits:
“After the first visit we were hooked. It was clear these experiences are vital for the children but sadly too often missing from mainstream education.
“I’ve seen children overcome many barriers on a farm visit. Time and time again we see children who are nervous being around chickens when they arrive, yet by the time they leave, they’re stroking horses and feeding cows. These unique experiences allow all children to shine, particularly ones that struggle in normal classroom settings, it undoubtedly sparks their curiosity.
“Working with the Country Trust makes things easy for me and ensures the children get the most out of the visit.”