In 2024, the Kent County Agricultural Society celebrates 20 years of Living Land, an event that provides a free day of education in food, farming and the environment for school groups in years 3 & 4. On Thursday 2nd May, it’s 20th year saw a further 2,800 children attend the event, taking the total number of young people educated at Living Land to approximately 57,000!

This annual event offers primary school children an introduction to the topics of agriculture, horticulture and the countryside through hands-on activities, engaging displays and the chance to talk directly to experts from across the agricultural industry and rural community.

Joined by the Kent Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs, children had the opportunity to meet a range of farm animals including sheep, pigs, goats, cows and alpacas, learning about how livestock are reared for food and animal-based products. The Animal Zone also saw dog displays and heavy horses, as well as a working milking parlour, sheep shearing demonstrations and a performance from the much-loved Sheep Show, offering both education AND entertainment!

A visit to the Touch & Taste Zone saw exhibitors including Growing Kent & Medway, Birt Potatoes and Brogdale Farm give children the opportunity to learn about local produce and take part in a range of activities such as smoothie making, honey and fruit tasting.

NEW for 2024, the Moving Machinery display saw local machinery dealers Crawfords and Tuckwells, as well as agricultural contracting business Hope Contractors, demonstrate the process of baling straw to a delighted audience! Meanwhile, in the Discovery & Machinery Zone, visitors had the opportunity to marvel at agricultural machinery and learn about farming practices both old and new, with exhibitors including FGS Agri, Hadlow College and Code Kids, to name just a few.

Nikki Dorkings, General Manager at the Kent County Agricultural Society reflected on the day, saying “We are delighted to have welcomed another 2,800 pupils and their teachers to the Kent Showground again this year! Living Land, now a cherished tradition in Kent, offers Year 3 and 4 classes an immersive opportunity to delve into the agricultural industry, discover the origins of their food, and explore rural traditions within their county.”

The one-day event is free for Kent-based primary schools, aiming to give children experiences within farming and the countryside, as well as educating them in where food comes from and the importance of preserving wildlife and the environment. Living Land is part of the Kent County Agricultural Society’s wider initiative to encourage education and development in farming.

Julian Barnes, Society Chairman said “The Kent County Agricultural Society is thrilled to be celebrating 20 successful years of Living Land. This event is a testament to the enduring importance of agricultural education and its impact on future generations. It inspires us to see so many young minds eagerly engaging with the wonders of our countryside.

“I also want to say a huge thank you to our kind sponsors, The Rochester Bridge Trust, as well as all the exhibitors and volunteers who so generously offer their time and resources to introduce thousands of young people to the rural world around them. Without this generous support, the event simply wouldn’t be possible.”

In it’s 20th year, the organisers behind Living Land were delighted to catch up with a former visitor, Ashleigh Yates, who attended the event as a Year 4 student. Now studying for a degree in Agriculture with Animal Science at Harper Adams University with funding from KCAS’s Kent Rural Scholarship, Ashleigh told us “Living Land opened my eyes to the rural world around me and gave me the opportunity to get hands on with different aspects of agriculture. It kick-started my interest in the industry, a passion that has carried throughout the years and massively influenced where I am now, from joining young farmers and showing livestock at the Kent County Show to beginning my degree in agriculture and hopefully I can go on to massively contribute to the industry once I graduate”.

Ashleigh went on to say “I truly believe Living Land is a unique out of classroom experience that teaches young children the provenance of their food and could inspire our next generation of farmers!”.

Success stories such as Ashleigh’s highlight the lasting impact of an event like Living Land on both the young people it welcomes through it’s doors and on the future of the agricultural industry!

Living Land 2025 applications will open later this year. If you are a teacher and are interested in finding out more about attending this event, please email sally@kentshowground.co.uk. The Kent County Agricultural Society has also launched a new offer for school visits to the Kent County Show on Friday 5th July 2024. Email info@kentshowground.co.uk to learn more.