The Kent County Agricultural Society hosted its annual Living Land event on Wednesday 7th May 2014. The event held at the Kent Showground forms part of the Society’s charitable objectives to educate the public about farming, food and the countryside. The Living Land event began in 2003 as a ‘schools only’ day to educate children aged 7 to 9 about where their food comes from.

Over the past eleven years the event has expanded to include displays about the environment, countryside and aspects of conservation. 2,800 children with teachers and support staff from 48 Primary Schools attended the event. The day has been designed to showcase important aspects of food production and the environment and now creates Kent’s largest outdoor classroom.

The schools are sent an itinerary ahead of the event to ensure that all children get a chance to spend time at the exhibits. The day is split in to zones, Woodland, Interactive and Livestock, in addition to these areas children are treated to a ‘Birds of Prey’ display and also watching the very amusing ‘Sheep Show’. Children from Madginford Park Junior School, Maidstone were invited by Leigh Holmes, commentator and owner of the Hawking Centre, Doddington to take part in the 30 minute display. The children were asked to sit in a straight line and were treated to an up-close experience with one of his large owls that flew directly over their heads.

Pupils from Roseacre School in Bearsted were amongst the visitors who were able to see both large and small animals in the Livestock Zone. Organised by Kent Young Farmers, the zone allowed children to touch, lambs, sheep, horses, cattle, goats, chickens and rabbits. Living Eggs based in Wateringbury brought young chicks for the pupils to hold.

The Interactive Zone included; apple juice tasting, bread making, tasting and learning about fruit and vegetables, sausage making, beekeeping & honey, crops, cereals & potatoes, smoothie making, ‘where my food comes from’ game and the Woodland Farm Trust had two wooden cows which children were invited to milk. This area also included a number of countryside stands highlighting bats, reptiles, creepy crawlies and mini beasts. Children could also see mayfly hatching and learn about British insects.

The Living Land is a free event for schools and helps to start conversation back in the classroom about where food comes from. Kevin Attwood, Kent County Agricultural Society Chairman, “This event is one of the highlights in the Society calendar. Everyone involved enjoys seeing young people learn about our countryside, the farmers who farm it and the wonderful produce and crops grown. The inspiration for this event is the main Kent County Show. Many secondary schools are able to attend the Show, but due to constraints and health and safety it is more difficult for schools to bring younger children. The Living Land is a great way for younger pupils to experience a mini Kent County Show, although we hope they will return in July with their families”.