Hopefully by now, many of you will know something about the education programme offered by the National Fruit Show. It is now in its 5th year and, thanks to a substantial increase in sponsored funding, 2016-17 looks set to be the most successful year yet! For those of you who may be less familiar with what we do, our education offer is currently a FREE curriculum-linked programme aimed at Primary school children and their families, across Kent. With additional resources, we aim to increase our geographical reach to include parts of London and East Sussex in the coming years.
In the classroom, we provide interactive 1 hour workshops where the children learn about how apples are grown, the huge variety and uses for them, how to spot ‘British’ in our shops, seasonality and the importance of a healthy diet. Most significantly for our mini consumers, they get to taste a wide selection of different apples provided generously by local farmers exploring the scope of flavour, colour and texture to find ‘an apple to suit everyone!’. After the workshop, children are invited into their school grounds to plant an apple tree, also a donation from the National Fruit Show. They take an active role in planting the tree and are taught about how the tree starts its life and how to take care of it.
In spite of the workshops’ popularity with those we have visited, perhaps our biggest challenge has been getting into new schools and new areas. Initially it was very hard to break into the ‘classroom scene’. As with any new workshop which is unfamiliar, convincing teachers that you have a high quality, useful product that is worth their valuable classroom time can be tough. Our first two years reflected this challenge but also the constraints of funding. Increased financial support this year means that we are able to invest time to nurture our relationship with established teaching staff and support a more active approach to the promotion and recruitment of new schools. We are confident that this will be money well spent and are aiming to reach at least 4000 pupils between September 2016 and May 2017 – indeed we have already taken lots of school bookings for the new academic year.
As well as reaching more primary school pupils in more parts of the South East, we are also trialling informal education in community groups. Whilst the age range (between 5-11 years), remains the same these mixed groups will receive a free, tailored service which aims to provide the same information with a different approach. We currently have bookings for a mixed ability home education group, a mixed age church community youth club and a Brownies group who will be earning a badge at the end of the session. These groups will give us the opportunity to reach more consumers and explore new ways of getting the information across.
For more information, if you would like to volunteer to help with our education programme or learn about sponsorship opportunities, please contact the National Fruit Show Office or visit me at the National Fruit Show 19th-20th October, Detling Showground