The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has launched its 2017 schools competition, in association with Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend and ASDA.

This year’s competition, which is open to all nursery, primary and special schools around Northern Ireland, is based on the theme ‘Eating Healthy, Local Food’. ASDA, which sponsors the competition, has a range of prizes on offer for the winners.

Joe McDonald, ASDA’s Northern Ireland Senior Manager of Corporate Affairs said: “This is a great initiative which ASDA NI is proud to support.

“Our team of Community Champions spends a lot of time working with schools to raise awareness of the important links between farming, local produce and the food we sell in our stores.

He added: “Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend offers a fantastic opportunity to bring these messages to life. We hope more schools than ever get involved.”

UFU President, Barclay Bell, added his comments to the mix.

This is an exciting opportunity for schools across Northern Ireland to further focus on not only healthy food but the seasonality of local produce.

“The competition is about engaging with school children – to get them thinking about farming and the hard work that goes into producing our first-class food.”

Bell said that the Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend, which is now in its sixth year, is going from strength to strength – helping schools in teaching children about the journey ‘from farm to fork’.

“This competition will give pupils a greater knowledge of the seasonality of our produce and how it is produced. It will also underline the importance of supporting local producers to benefit the rural and wider economy in Northern Ireland.

“I would certainly encourage schools to consider a trip to a farm.”

Bell said that the UFU has been highly impressed every year with the number and quality of entries for the competition. “We would again encourage schools and teachers to participate, in what is a very worthwhile competition,” he added.

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Entry forms have been sent to all nursery, primary and special schools across Northern Ireland. The closing date for entries is Friday, May 12.