NEW FOREST schoolchildren have been learning about how cheese, bread and jams are made as part of a national celebration.
Year 5 pupils at Bartley Junior School took part in British Food Fortnight, which raises awareness of the benefits of buying and eating local produce.
Hampshire Fare, a not-for-profit group which supports local producers, organised the event in conjunction with school catering service HC3S.
The children enjoyed a talk by Mike Smales from Lyburn Farm near Salisbury, who explained about farm life and how 330-kilos of his cheese is made every day.
Romilla Arber from the Honesty Group, which teaches people about food and what is in it, showed the pupils the difference between additive-free freshly baked bread and the familiar longer life brands.
Speaking afterwards, she said: “It is great to be part of British Food Fortnight. Helping children to learn about the provenance of their food is absolutely essential if we want people to appreciate the importance of eating locally and seasonally.”
Pupils also learnt how strawberries and other fruits are grown locally by New Forest Fruits. Jennifer Williams from Naked Jam, in Lymington, then spoke to the children about how she makes her award-winning preserves from local and foraged fruits.
Year five teacher Mr Walter said: “The event was fun and fascinating, with local producers wowing the children with their lovely products and their descriptions of how they were produced and brought to market.
“The children had a great time, some delicious treats and they learned a lot. It is very important to make the children aware of the variety of the area’s local produce and how they can support British food producers. Events like this help them to understand where their food comes from.”
This is the fourth year that Hampshire Fare has spent time during British Food Fortnight at a local school. The aim is to leave each school with the contacts and knowledge to hold its own similar event in the future, so leaving a British Food Fortnight legacy.
Hampshire Fare’s commercial manager Tracy Nash said: “We really value the opportunity to plant the seed in young minds that where your food comes from is an important consideration when choosing what to consume.
“We have loved working with our local producers to give pupils at Bartley School an insight into how their food is made and what they can buy here in Hampshire.”
For more information on how to support British producers, visit www.hampshirefare.co.uk