More than 4,000 Suffolk schoolchildren aged seven to nine got to learn about where their food comes from during a fun day out today.

Youngsters from primary schools across the county gathered at the home of the Suffolk Show - Trinity Park in Ipswich - for the annual School Farm and Country Fair.

The event - which has been running for more than 20 years - is hosted by Suffolk Agricultural Association (SAA), a farmer-run charity.

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Groups of schoolchildren were supported by more than 200 volunteer farmer marshals as they got to see livestock at close hand, played games and learnt about farming and food production.

They got to see sheep being sheared and saw a driverless Farmdroid tractor from Home Farm Nacton.

The event - which was over-subscribed - drew children from 80 schools who got to see 76 exhibitors.

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Leiston primary school teacher Cherie Robertson-Jones said it was one of their favourite school outings of the year.

"This is one we look forward to. The children get so much out of it and they really enjoy it and we do too. It's nice getting out of the classroom and being practical," she said.

"For some of them it's the experience of getting out and seeing animals and activities they wouldn't normally get a chance to see."

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Although it was a brisk and breezy day at 10C, the children were dressed for the weather and having fun.

It wasn't quite as easy for the organisers, who were faced with challenging gusts of 50mph winds on Monday (April 15) as they set up the marquees and stands. 

"It's been hard this year with the wind setting up on Monday," admitted Brian Barker, chairman of the SAA committee which runs the event.

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"We tried to get as many people as possible under cover - now the sun is shining."

It was Brian's third event at the helm. The hands-on learning gave children - and teachers - a new perspective, he said.

"The children have smiles on their faces and they have all turned up for a fun day of learning and a happy experience.

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"There are lots of happy children and happy teachers and happy parents out there.

"It's all well and good doing lots of things in the classroom and learning from books and papers but to experience a live animal in front of you and tasting a strawberry and learning how it grows it really engages children of this age," he said.

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"It's brilliant - everyone wants to be here and wants to come back. It's just a rewarding day."

The activities link in with the national curriculum, he added, and the aim was to bring farming to live for children without any direct experience of it.

Education is one of the SAA charity's primary objectives. Last year, its volunteers were selected for a King’s Award for Voluntary Service for their educational work.

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