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    Second Field to Fork Festival a huge success

    Posted 6 June 2019

    Harper Adams University has hosted the second annual Field to Fork festival.

    The celebration of food and where it comes from brought huge numbers to the University on Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th May 2019. More than 700 visitors from schools were present on the Friday, with more than 9,000 people attending the Saturday.

    Field to Fork Festival is an opportunity to showcase what Harper Adams is doing for the industries it serves, providing an insightful and exciting, hands-on experience for all generations to enjoy and learn how food ends up on our plates.

    On top of the long list of educational experiences, a 4x4 track from Volvo, bubble football, go karting and live music were just some of the things on offer to fill the day with as much excitement as possible.

    Kim Chadwick, Outreach Manager for Harper Adams University, said: “Field to Fork started off by just being an outreach activity. The Friday is there to work with schools in a curriculum-linked way to provide many different sessions and work really closely with academics to showcase the whole food supply chain from start to finish.

    “The Saturday follows the same principles but it’s about giving something back to the community so it’s really different to anything we do elsewhere. It’s about opening doors to the university, letting everybody in to see the facilities and what we do.”

    There were more than 30 interactive educational activities available across the festival, including lessons on how drones are used in food production, the importance of bees to the food industry as well as workshops on all things dairy (including chocolate!).

    The Farmers Market gave some of the county’s best producers a platform from which showcase and sell what they bring to the table. There were rare breeds of meat, cakes, top quality chocolate, samosas, jams and chutneys, all courtesy of regional businesses.

    A selection of the best beers, ciders wines and juices were accompanied by a huge selection of options from street food vendors. Curries, slow roasted burgers, fresh wraps and ice-cream were available for all to enjoy.

    Ian Freedman, Manager of the National Collaborative Outreach Programme team based at Harper Adams, said: “The big thing for us in Field to Fork was getting the concept of what university is to the students, doing it in a fun, interactive way that’s never been done before. But as well as that, to get the parents engaged. It wasn’t just a fun festival; it was a really interactive educational festival that really showed what a university is, what it does and the place of the university in the local community.

    “Seeing the children’s faces on the Friday light up when they saw how some of the activities worked and then again on the Saturday when the parents came with them. You saw a physical attitude shift from parents and kids as when they first got here - they were quite coy and timid and they weren’t sure what to do, but as soon as they started engaging with the activities they became a lot more confident, you could see that physical change.”

    Beth Heath, 2001 alumna and “Director of Fun” at Shropshire Festivals, collaborated with the university to deliver Field to Fork.

    Festivals are Beth’s specialism – she delivers the highly successful Shrewsbury Food Festival, Pub at the Park, Shropshire Kidsfest and Oktoberfest events. Beth knew she could create an event that opened the doors to Harper, rather than it being a place that ‘everyone just drives past’.

    She said: “It’s been phenomenal, seeing 10,000 people enjoying Harper Adams and getting the chance to explore the University properly and ask the questions they have – particularly with the research projects they can ask students about.”

    Kim Chadwick also paid tribute to companies who supported the event. “Field to Fork is about engaging with industry – getting the likes of Tesco and Muller farmers helping out. We also had Jupiter Foods, Volvo, Exotic Zoo and many more involved. We worked with small businesses and gave back to alumni who have their own businesses – giving them space to sell their wares in the farmers market and a chance to talk about their processes. Everything from start to finish is about educating the public.

    “My favourite thing was the general buzz on campus – to see so many people enjoying the farm was incredible.”

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