The Tipperary Food Producers Group has launched a project with secondary schools, where transition-year students in the county get to work with food producers and state-of-the-art technology.
The ‘Food Connect’ project involves matching 11 schools with 11 local food producers on specific food production projects.
The overall project objective is to bring producers and students together with the aim of increasing the producers’ profiles within the county, encouraging more consumers to support local foods and to offer the students an insight into the commercial world of artisan food production.
The students will get involved in food production on a range of projects, from market research to international product comparisons, on behalf of their food producer, resulting in a broader knowledge of local food production and the business sector.
Visits from artisan producers
The schools have already received a visit from their partner producer. Students were educated on artisan and speciality foods and the importance of local food production to the local economy.
During the programme, four students will represent their group and spend a week each in the producers’ premises, learning about the business. Students will use up-to-the-minute technology while working on the ‘Food Connect’ project, reporting daily progress on a blog which will be seen by all other students in their own class and more importantly, the students from the other 10 schools.
Students will also use Facebook and Twitter to communicate about their partner producer, which will also help to build the profiles of all 11 producers involved in the project.
Presentations to judges
All 11 projects will conclude in December 2010, with a presentation by each class to a panel of judges about their findings and successes during the project. In early 2011, two perpetual trophies, one for North Tipperary and one for South Tipperary, will be presented for the schools where outstanding effort is recognised.
Tipperary boasts more than 30 artisan food producers with a combined turnover of more than €20 million and employing 120 people.