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05th April, 2017

Forming a link between field and fork is one of the biggest challenges for the agriculture industry. But it is something that agricultural show societies are determined to do – and this year the Royal Bath & West Show is encouraging visitors to really get stuck in.

The popular Farming for the Family area is getting a revamp this year, with more hands-on exhibits to help visitors to get fully involved in all aspects of agriculture from sheep to machinery.

Tractor Ted – the much-loved children’s character – will be attending the show, with stories, a Digger Den and tractor-driving making learning fun for the children. But there will also be plenty for the young-at-heart, including hands on cookery experiences.

“We really want our visitors to participate rather than spectate at this year’s event,” says head of shows Alan Lyons.

Visitors to the event (31 May – 3 June) can expect to see a whole new kitchen area at Farming for the Family, where they will be able to try their hand at a variety of activities. A milk masterclass will also be running – tasting a variety of milk types from Channel Island to skimmed – with a milk guru on hand to explain the differences.

“Promoting British agriculture and homegrown produce is one of our key charitable aims,” says Mr Lyons. “It’s something we’re very passionate about, and as 10% of the UK population visit an agricultural show each year, we’re in a unique position to help improve their understanding of rural life.”

Somerset farmer, Rosie Sage, is similarly enthusiastic about educating the public in food and farming.  She is a long-term committee member of Farming for the Family and each year brings the Hurdlebrook Milking Cow Show to the section for the public to watch and learn about milking.  Everyone is encouraged to get up close with this hands-on section.

The family farm, run jointly by Dave Paull and Rosie, milk 200 Guernsey cows in Babcary, Somerset and have been selling their raw milk and raw cream for over 20 years.  For the last 15 years, their produce, including yoghurt, has been a weekly regular on the London Farmers’ Markets.

 “A lot of our customers see raw milk products as a healthier alternative to those on the supermarket shelves,” Rosie explains.  “Unpasteurised milk has a multitude of health benefits as the pasteurisation process kills the good bacteria.”

“Our Guernsey milk naturally contains 95% A2 beta casein (protein).  Anecdotal evidence has shown that A2 milk can be consumed by people who usually have dairy sensitivities.  This makes it a great option for those who have previously had to remove dairy from their diets.”

Aside from keeping busy on the farm, Rosie is happy to spend her time educating the public about farming and food production through taking part in education days with schools, attending other agricultural shows with the Milking Cow Show and having an ‘open farm’ policy for their customers.

“There is a huge disconnection between the public and food,” she says.  “Many shoppers are concerned with being super savvy savers, not realising they are sacrificing nutritional value in their quest. As farmers, I believe we have a moral duty to convey the importance of natural products, their provenance and food production.”

“Hopefully, a visit to Farming for the Family at the show may capture the imagination of a child who may not previously have thought of a career within the agricultural industry,” says Rosie. “For others, getting up close and interacting with the cows and other animals is a rewarding experience allowing them to appreciate their size and beauty.”

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