CHILDREN will be encouraged to eat healthily and taught how fruit and vegetables are grown thanks to a new project.

Barleylands Education Programme spent £3,000 building a new polytunnel and planting it with produce.

Each year the farm’s education programme welcomes more than 10,000 school children from across south Essex for visits and staff also go to schools.

Karen Watson, Barleylands education officer, said: “The new polytunnel will be a great addition to our educational programme as it will enable children to see the crops growing all year round.

“Some children have little understanding of where their food comes from and there’s nothing better than getting them involved in planting and maintaining the crops, as well as harvesting them and creating healthy snacks.”

Part of the cash funding for the project has come from Waitrose, after shoppers voted for the cause with green tokens given with purchases.

The campaign group Edible Essex has also given a grant to help the Billericay farm deliver their “field to fork” message to schools.

Edible Essex is managed by the Rural Community Council of Essex and aims to increase the number of people growing, sourcing and using local food.

Barleylands met the remainder of the costs.

Karen added: “We are really grateful to Edible Essex and to Waitrose shoppers in Billericay who have supported us and are helping us educate the next generation.”

Barleylands holds a Learning Outside the Classroom quality badge and in 2013 won the Education Farm of the Year award from the National Farm Attraction Network.

Barleylands is also a recognised learning destination for the Children’s University.

For more information on Barleylands visit