New book by local author brings farming, food and health to all young Northern Ireland pupils

A new curriculum-linked book that uses poetry and illustrations to simplify the science of sustainable farming and food has been made available to every primary school in NI.

Friday, 25th June 2021, 1:27 pm
Updated Friday, 25th June 2021, 1:28 pm
Sister and brother, Grace and Robert Wilson (Age 8 and 7), at the launch of the science-based and curriculum-linked educational resource ‘Northern Ireland: Our Food, Our Story’ for all Northern Ireland Primary Schools, with its author Dr. Vanessa Woods

Witten by Dr. Vanessa Woods, who lives in County Down, founder and Chief Executive of the first Science Communications Consultancy on the Island of Ireland, the book ‘Northern Ireland: Our Food, Our Story’ is aimed at educating 4-12 year olds about Northern Ireland farming, food, culture and health.

Written through the medium of poetry, accompanied by beautiful colourful illustrations, the book is primarily aimed at children aged 4-12 and is presented in a way that is ‘‘accessible and engaging for children.’’

It covers a wide range of topics such as food nutrients, sustainability, traceability, soil health, grass-fed food, greenhouse gases and carbon sequestration, biodiversity, PGI, PDO, the importance of a balanced diet, dental health, farm safety and Northern Irish culture.

Grace and Robert Wilson (Age 8 and 7) with Josephine Kelly, Acting CEO of AFBI who launched the science-based and curriculum-linked educational resource ‘Northern Ireland: Our Food, Our Story’ for all Northern Ireland Primary Schools, along with the book’s author Dr. Vanessa Woods (centre) and project partners L-R Gerard McGivern (Chairman, LMC); Joe McDonald (ASDA); Danielle McBride (White’s Oats); Liam McCarthy (ABP); David Wright (Irish Farmers Journal); Josephine Kelly (Acting CEO, AFBI); Ian Stevenson (CEO, LMC); Liam Woulfe (CEO, Grassland Agro) and Eileen Hall (Owner, Cavanagh Free Range Eggs)

Commenting on the launch of ‘Northern Ireland: Our Food, Our Story’’, Josephine Kelly, Acting CEO of the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Hillsborough and partner in this project, said:

‘‘AFBI is delighted to be involved in this schools project as it brings the story of farming, food, culture and health to our young people in an imaginative way.

‘‘We are particularly pleased that the book is curriculum linked, as it is important that we educate our primary school children on the important role that food plays in human health and how crucial it is in this era of climate change that we produce our food sustainably.’’

Now living in Co. Down, Vanessa grew up on a farm and has a passion for the land and marrying the science of farming, food and health.

Sister and brother, Grace and Robert Wilson (Age 8 and 7), with Josephine Kelly, Acting CEO of AFBI who launched the science-based and curriculum-linked educational resource ‘Northern Ireland: Our Food, Our Story’ for all Northern Ireland Primary Schools, with its author Dr. Vanessa Woods

Vanessa explains she wrote ‘Northern Ireland: Our Food, Our Story’ to ‘‘help encourage science-based discussion on food nutrients, healthy eating and the green climate agenda in primary schools and homes across Northern Ireland.

‘‘Farmers grow high quality nutritious food which consumers require for health. We are often guilty of treating food as a commodity because it can be more plentiful nowadays.

‘‘The work of farmers is underpinned by science as they seek to become more sustainable.

‘‘This book is the first step in delivering science-based messages to children, their teachers and parents by telling the story of sustainable and nutritious food and its importance for good dental health, human health and wellbeing.

Food display at the launch of the science-based and curriculum-linked educational resource ‘Northern Ireland: Our Food, Our Story’ for all Northern Ireland Primary Schools, with its author Dr. Vanessa Woods

‘‘Understanding the nutrient density of food and nutritional sustainability will assist consumers in forming a shopping list for important nutrients. UK households waste on average £700 per year by throwing food away. We all have a role to play in delivering sustainable food production systems-starting with the soil on our farms, right through to the kitchen table in every single home.

‘‘Consumers and farmers have a natural partnership and as with all successful partnerships, relevant and effective communication is key.’’

‘Northern Ireland: Our Food, Our Story’ has just been delivered to school principals in all primary schools across Northern Ireland.