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Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Hands-on harvest celebration in the New Forest

Around 270 school children celebrated the harvest season with an event to learn more about where their food comes from.

The New Forest National Park’s education team teach
children from the New Forest School at Nomansland
about harvest time in the New Forest.
The schools were invited to Sandy Balls Holiday Centre near Fordingbridge to experience first-hand the traditions of New Forest coppicing, beekeeping and rearing New Forest ponies, pigs, cows, and sheep. They also saw cookery demonstrations of local food and took part in bug hunts and harvest crafts, topped off with a competition and local produce lunch.

Organised by the New Forest National Park Authority, Sandy Balls, New Forest Marque, Hampshire Country Learning and the New Forest Trust, the harvest celebration welcomed  five schools and 80 parents today (Thursday, 7 October).

The children, aged seven to 11, came from Hythe Primary School, The New Forest School at Nomansland, Mansel Park Primary School in Southampton, Downton Primary School and Bassett Green Primary School, Southampton.

Children from The New Forest School, Nomansland,
learn about Dexter cows from owner Peter Niccolls.
Sarah Richards, Manager of the New Forest Marque for local produce at the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘The aim of the event was to get children to connect with what happens in nature and to give them a better understanding of where they live and the wonderful variety of local food available.

‘We want them to understand that what you buy in the supermarket often comes from thousands of miles away and is out of season. What you can get locally is really tasty, of good quality, and it is interesting to find out where it has come from as well as supporting local businesses.’

(Left to right) New Forest producers Natasha Moore of Perfect
Preserves, Sarah Richards of the New Forest Marque produce
scheme at the National Park Authority and Steph Lowe
of New Forest Biscotti tell the children about the benefits
of local food.

Fuller’s Inns provided lunches for the children, with Paulton’s Park providing competition prizes. The National Park Authority also gave travel grants to subsidise the cost of the Southampton schools getting to the event.

 Sandy Balls Managing Director Tim Howells said: 'Sandy Balls has a long-standing commitment to protecting its environment, with a string of David Bellamy Gold awards for an outstanding contribution to conservation. It is also home to one of the fastest growing farmers' markets in the region, helping to support local producers, crafts people and artisans.

'We think it is vital that the next generation of shoppers knows about the wealth of local seasonal food.'

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