School team wins Leaf Education’s national competition in Food, Farming And Natural Environment

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A team of students from Pipers Corner School in High Wycombe have been crowned winners of the National Competition in Food, Farming and Natural Environment 2022.  This year’s finalists’ weekend, run by LEAF Education, in partnership with Bayer and Coleg Cambria, was held at Coleg Cambria in Llysfasi, North Wales, over the weekend of 21-23 October.

The Pipers Corner team came out ahead over the students from five other schools, Cambourne Village College, Cambridge, Ballard School, New Milton, Ysgol y Preseli, Crymych, Brannel School, St. Austell, and Laurus Ryecroft, Manchester, in an activity-filled weekend, in which the students experienced a wide range of hands-on farm activities at the 970-acre college farm. 

The weekend showcased how the agriculture industry is adapting to help farmers produce food sustainably and protect the environment. Every single student embraced the experience, getting up at 5am for milking, learning the intricacies of soil science with ioLight microscopes to look at roots, fungi and bacteria and micro-biometers to determine soil carbon and bacterial / fungal ratio of soil, getting hands on weighing lambs and managing agro-forestry systems.  Throughout the weekend students were immersed in the huge amount of technology that the agricultural industry encompasses by using drone technology to measure soil compaction and even using Bayer’s fieldview technology through augmented reality headsets. Not to mention that all the students got the chance to drive a tractor!  As well as hand-on, practical activities, a range of inspirational guest speakers and local businesses highlighting the array of careers opportunities available to young people within the agricultural industry. 

Soil is key

Students highlighted the importance of soil, how different farming systems can have positive and negative effects on soils, and how new and innovative technology is helping farmers to monitor and manage their soils as the centre of their whole farming systems. 

Melanie Collins, head of Humanities Faculty at Pipers Corner School says: “The competition offered a unique opportunity for our students to visit a real working farm and get to grips with the opportunities available to them within the agri-food sector and even have a chance to see what the work might be like! We all absolutely loved attending the finalists’ weekend which offered a thought-provoking hypothesis, getting the students to really think about how food production balances a symbiotic relationship with wider factors, especially that of soil. The students have had a truly memorable weekend and are looking forward to sharing their experience with the wider school.”

Carl Edwards, LEAF’s director, Education and Public Engagement says: “We are delighted with the enthusiastic participation in this year’s competition. Previously many pupils and teachers have told us the competition has opened career options they might not have previously considered.  Two thirds of students who attended the competition weekend last year went on to apply for or were considering applying for land-based or agricultural college courses – which they were unaware of before the competition weekend.

Opportunity to showcase industry

“The competition gives us a real opportunity to showcase our industry. It brings to life the wealth of opportunities in agriculture, and helps teachers and students engage with food production and farming at all stages of the food chain.  We know that young people are acutely aware of environmental issues and are keen to learn more about the positive and negative impact that we are having on our planet, whilst seeking out ways to ensure our future sustainability.  We are particularly excited to see the result of this year’s competition and the development of the students’ awareness and understanding of how their food is produced, the issues that farmers face and the huge opportunities that are open to them within the agricultural sector.  

Huge congratulations to Pipers Corner on being crowned this year’s winners and to all our finalists.  All the students have been touched in some way by their involvement in the weekend and it has been a privilege to see their interest, engagement and enthusiasm.   Our grateful thanks also to Bayer for supporting this year’s competition, to everyone at Coleg Cambria and to all the teachers who opened this opportunity up for their students and supported them throughout the process. 

You can watch more on the of the National Competition in Food, Farming and Natural Environment 2022 finalists’ weekend here:

Those schools interested in next year’s competition can find out more and register their interest to be notified when entries open here:


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