This project aims to secure the future of farming in Scotland, by supporting future rural education events for children and young people, covering core costs such as infrastructure, bus transport, coordination and safety requirements.
Mairi Gougeon MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands, went to see how the RHET spent the funding to educate Scotland’s young people.
Gougeon joined over 100 primary five and six pupils from the Brechin schools cluster, who were meeting local farmers, growers and rural businesses running a variety of sessions to learn about how Scottish food is produced.
At this event, pupils were educated about topics including dairy and making butter; seeds, sheaves and growing crops; beekeeping and even using John Deere machinery
The Royal Highland Education Trust was established in 1999 and provides free resources, farm visits and classroom speakers which allow children to learn more about Scottish farming, food and the countryside.
RHET currently engages with around one in eight of Scottish schoolchildren through 13 local Countryside Initiatives.
RHET takes over 18,000 children out to farms each academic year and provides more than 28,000 children with a classroom speaker talk.
RHET is run as a charity and receives its core funding from the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS).
Other operating costs are covered by grants and funds from a number of trusts, companies and funding organisations, including the Scottish Government.
Speaking at the event, Mairi Gougeon MSP said: “I am delighted to be here to see first-hand the benefits of the Royal Highland Education Trust’s Food and Farming education programme.
“Since 2017 the Scottish Government has given over £700k to the Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET) in order to support their programme of school farm visits and associated educational resources for schools.
“This has allowed them to educate and inspire thousands of children and young people on how Scottish food is produced.
“This fresh support will allow RHET to reach even more children, many of whom are from deprived areas.
“The programme provides an opportunity for young people to visit a farm and offers a hands-on educational experience which highlights the importance of farming and food production to our society.
“One of the aims of our Good Food Nation Act is to improve access to, and understanding of, the benefits of healthy local foods for everyone in Scotland.
“It is clear that this ambitious project is contributing massively to this wider vision.”
RHET Chairman Alistair Marshall said: “We are very grateful to the Scottish Government for this award which helps support our aim of getting pupils and their teachers out into the working countryside, to get wellies on the ground and ignite their curiosity.
“We offer all our visits, talks and events for free and this is important to us all in the RHET national network, to make food and farming fun and accessible for all.
“Through using event spaces creatively, and working in collaboration with Angus Show, as we have today, we can offer more schools the chance to get hands. Brechin show is open tomorrow for the public so today we are using the big marquee for workshops, keeping us out the rain or sun!”
RHET Angus chairman Bruce Christie said: “Every one of Ms Gougeon’s constituents need a farmer three times a day.
“The support from the award from Scottish Government means we can keep events like this in the school calendar, helping Scotland’s young people get better connections with their local food and farming industries.”
“Listening to their questions and seeing the penny drop as they see seeds ground into flour is part of the reason I love volunteering with RHET.”