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VION to Stage Farm Visits for Schoolchildren

by 5m Editor
14 September 2011, at 9:52am

SCOTLAND, UK - VION Food Group (VION), one of the country's leading food manufacturers, has teamed up with the Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET) in a three-year deal to help provide educational farm visits for Scottish school children.

Over 30 pupils from Cargilfield School in Edinburgh kicked off the programme during Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight (3-18th September) with a visit to Craigie’s Farm in South Queensferry where they were met by representatives from VION Food Group, RHET, the Royal Highland Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) and Scotland Food & Drink.

Headquartered in Livingston, VION Food Group has extensive facilities across the UK, from farms, feed mills and hatcheries, to primary production, processing and packing and employs almost 3,500 people throughout Scotland alone.

VION will help fund the provision of buses for visits and local co-ordinator costs and its Scottish based livestock procurement officers will help recruit farmers for farm visits by schools.

RHET staff will also visit a VION processing plant to familiarise themselves with the business’ range of operations, which also include hatcheries, farms, and feed mills, and to explore other areas which could benefit RHET.

VION Food Group’s Chief Executive, Ton Christiaanse, said: “Scottish farmers have some of the highest animal welfare standards, and provenance, high farming standards and sustainability are core to the VION business.

"As a farmer-owned business, and as a major Scottish farmer in our own right, we are passionate about farming and food and are keen to support Scotland’s drive for better food and a better understanding of the important role that farmers play in our local communities.”

Farmer, John Sinclair, of West Craigie Farm is the fourth generation of a family that has been farming in Scotland for over 200 years.

He hosted the tour of 31 school children talking to them about his commitment to farming and nature.

“Farming is such an important part of our heritage and it is fantastic to to see these kids, many of them not having stepped foot on a farm before, learn something that’s so important to Scotland’s national wellbeing,” he said.

RHET, the charity that receives its core funding from RHASS, currently engages with one in eight Scottish schoolchildren, taking over 15,000 children out to farms each academic year in a bid to see every child in Scotland to learn about food, farming and the countryside, and to create a wider understanding of the environmental, economic and social realities of rural Scotland.

RHET Manager Alison Motion, said: “We are delighted that VION UK has come on board. They have their own pig and poultry farms as well as many farmer suppliers in Scotland, and we should be able to extend our farm visits programme to give children an insight into livestock production and processing. We are grateful for their support and look forward to working with VION UK management and staff over the coming months.”