The Gower schoolchildren learning the benefits of seasonal eating and food from local farms

  • Report by ITV Wales' Rural Affairs Correspondent, Hannah Thomas

Schoolchildren in Gower are getting an education into how food is grown on local farms and the benefits of seasonal eating.

The Gower Fields to Forks initiative is bringing together several local farms with Bishopston Comprehensive School and food distributor Castell Howell.

The pupils are being taught about local food production, sustainability, cooking, marketing, and agriculture before having food delivered to their school later this month to make a nutritious meal.

Approximately 84% of Wales' land area is farmed but much of what we eat is not necessarily grown locally.

The UK currently produces about 60% of its domestic food consumption by economic value, part of which is exported. This means just under half of the actual food on our plates is produced in the UK.

This project in the Gower is being led by community interest company 4theRegion, which is aiming to bring positive change in Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.

It is working with the catering department for Swansea Council, Castell Howell, and several local farms including Western Slade Farm and Little Waterstone Farm.

The hope is the scheme will act as a model for the future in obtaining food for schools.

It is hoped that it will provide a model for local sourcing of food for schools and public services in the future.

The Labour-Plaid Corporation agreement published in 2021 has highlighted the need to develop a community food strategy to encourage the production and supply of locally-sourced food in Wales.

Ed Morgan, from Castell Howell foods has said:"We hope this collaboration between supply chain partners can develop and flourish and be an example of how local horticultural supply chains can evolve."

Zoe Antrobus, Director of 4theRegion, said: "It's a really important project in terms of climate change and reducing the carbon footprint of food supply.

It's inspiring children and inspiring grownups around nutrition and putting good food on young children's plates."

Jeff Bird, head of Bishopston Comprehensive school, said: "We're very excited about this project, which will put local food on children's plates while teaching them about climate change, local food production, nutrition, cooking, how to market food and more.

"The pupils have very much enjoyed visiting the farms and are looking forward to devising - and enjoying - a meal cooked with local food."

On the project a Welsh Government spokesperson has said: "Local food production is valuable when it brings wellbeing benefits to our people and our Programme for Government, reflecting the Co-operation Agreement, commits to developing a Community Food Strategy to encourage the production and supply of locally-sourced food in Wales.

"We are in discussions on the best mechanism of implementing the strategy.

"We are in regular dialogue with organisations and individuals which represent the agri-food supply chain both and this includes farmers, processors and retailers."