Agri Aware launches updated education programme aiming to reconnect Irish children to food and farming roots
Agri Aware, supported by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has launched its revitalised Dig In! Learning About Life on the Countryside resource aimed at primary school students.
The resource, which is being sent to all of Ireland’s 3,240 primary schools this week, contains innovative modules that cover all aspects of Irish farming and food origin, from biodiversity friendly farming methods and animal welfare to healthy eating guidelines.
Agri Aware redeveloped and updated its Dig In! resource, first published in 2013, as it was increasingly observed that Irish children are becoming more and more disconnected to how the food that ends up on their dinner plates is produced from farm to fork.
Dig In!, which also comes as a digital resource, is divided into four modules according to levels of ability for Junior and Senior Infants; 1st&2nd class; 3rd&4th class and 5th&6th class. Each module contains 20 ready-to-go lesson plans and corresponding activities. Furthermore, each lesson plan is linked to strands of the English, Maths, Art, Drama, Science, Geography and SPHE curriculum.
Children will gain a real insight into all aspects of Irish farming, from learning how animals are reared and crops are grown, to understanding water pollution and how farmers can reduce their carbon footprint.
The revitalised resource also contains a first of its kind Irish Organic Farming Pull-Out Poster which highlights the growing involvement of Irish farmers in the sector in recent years.
Minister for State for Land Use and Biodiversity at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Pippa Hackett welcomed the launch of a revised Dig In! Educational resource, which is supported by her Department.
“The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is delighted to support the launch of Dig In! which is a modern and innovative, educational resource. I would encourage teachers nationwide to incorporate it into their lesson plans and bring the positive story of Irish agriculture alive in classrooms,” said Minister Hackett.
“As an organic farmer, I am delighted that a special organic farming pull-out poster has been included in the resource. Organic farming is a growing sector in Ireland and it is important for Irish children to recognise its importance from an early age. I would like to congratulate Agri Aware on compiling this fantastic educational resource sure to be used by Irish schools for years to come.”
Speaking at the launch of Dig In!, Agri Aware Chairman and dairy and tillage farmer, Alan Jagoe from Co Cork said, “It has never been more important for Irish children to reconnect with farming and understand how their food is produced. Earlier in the year families were panic buying as they thought Covid-19 would disrupt food production, but farmers kept producing sustainable food while looking after their animals and the environment, like they do all year round.
“Dig In! gives Irish primary school students a real insight into Irish farming and food production. From the history of farming in Ireland and sustainable farm practices to biodiversity and the importance of food security, Dig In! brings to life all aspects of modern farming in a child friendly, innovative and educational way.”
INTO (Irish National Teachers Organisation) President Mary Magner also welcomed the new resource in what has been a challenging 2020 for teachers.
“On behalf of the INTO, I am delighted to take part in the launch of Dig In! – a wonderful primary resource, which covers all aspects of farming in an interactive way. While it is engaging for pupils, the fact that the lesson plans are complementary to other subjects, such as English, Math, Art, Drama, Science, Geography and SPHE, means it is convenient and accessible for all teachers, no matter what their personal experience of farming may be,” said Ms Magner.
“In what has been a challenging year, Dig In! is a welcome, high-quality resource to have to hand. Each module contains 20 lesson plans and corresponding activities, available in English and as Gaeilge, and it covers a range of interesting topics at various levels of learning – from farm animals, food products and healthy eating to sustainability, food security and the European Common Agricultural Policy."
To learn more about Dig In!, teachers and families can follow @Agriaware on social media where it will be explaining the benefits of using the resource all this week. To access a digital version of the resource teachers can visit: https://www.agriaware.ie/digin.html