A leading communicator within the farming and food sectors has indicated that more can be done to encourage the inclusion of agricultural science within the curriculum followed by schools in Northern Ireland.

“Agriculture and Land Use has been available as a GCSE subject for a number of years, and it would be good to build on this," said Dr. Vanessa Woods.

But, in many ways, this is not the issue; the real challenge is that of educating all the children of Northern Ireland regarding the food they eat and how it is produced in such a sustainable way by the farmers on their doorsteps.”

Woods made these comments at the launch of her new book - Northern Ireland: Our Food, Our Story.

She believes that the new publication can help kickstart children’s interest in the farming and food industries.

“It has been developed with primary school children specifically in mind," Woods told Agriland at the launch.

"But it would also be of interest to older age-group students. 1,000 copies of the book have been distributed to primary schools across Northern Ireland.”

Farm book in verse

A very unique feature of the new book, is the fact that it uses poetry to help simplify the science behind Northern Ireland farming and food for health and wellbeing.

According to Woods, the new publication is a science-based and curriculum-linked educational resource that will engage with children.

It covers a wide range of topics, including: food nutrients; sustainability; traceability; soil health; grass-fed food; greenhouse gases (GHG) and carbon sequestration; biodiversity; the importance of a balanced diet; dental health; farm safety; and Northern Irish culture.

Commenting on the launch of the book, Josephine Kelly, acting CEO of the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and partner in the project, said:

“AFBI is delighted to be involved in this schools project, as it brings the story of farming, food, culture and health to our young people in an imaginative way.

We are particularly pleased that the book is curriculum-linked, as it is important that we educate our primary school children on the important role that food plays in human health and how crucial it is in this era of climate change that we produce our food sustainably.”

Woods concluded: “We need to tell consumers of all ages about the story of sustainable and nutrient-dense food grown by farmers, all of which is underpinned by world-class science.

“The need to collaborate across the food value chain, adopting a ‘One Health’ approach to communication is also critically important.”