Research reveals that despite teenagers feeling disconnected from farming, many of today’s young people are interested in how their food is produced and science’s role within that. 

  • 16
  • OCT
  • 2018

Four out of ten teenagers feel that their generation should be much more interested in where their food comes from, according to a new study funded by Rothamsted Research.

And over a third of them strongly believe science and innovation are the key to a sustainable future for farming.

Timed to coincide with World Food Day and its theme of ‘Our Actions are our Future’, the wide-ranging study looked at what teenagers know or feel about what they eat and the industries that create it.

Professor Angela Karp, Director for Science Innovation, Engagement and Partnerships said she hoped the outcomes of the research will help shape new strategies and priorities for the food and farming sectors to more effectively connect with young people.

“Today’s teenagers are the farmers, consumers – and scientists – of tomorrow, and what they think about farming will have a huge impact on the wider industry over the coming years, including implications for the future of research institutions such as Rothamsted.

“This research will allow Rothamsted and other organisations in the agricultural sector improve the ways they engage with young people about where food comes from and how it is produced.”

Results of the survey were revealed during the one-day LEAF Education conference ‘Engaging Teenagers with Farming’, which attracted UK & Irish delegates from across the farming, food and education sectors.

The twelve-month research programme, commissioned by LEAF Education, comprised a survey of over 1,000 12 to 18-year olds in the UK and interviews with 60 teenagers at a ‘Teenager Empowerment’ event last month

The key findings included:

  • 87% agreed that young people should be more interested in how food is produced and where food comes from, with 41% firmly believing it.
  • 75% think that science and innovation will underpin a sustainable future for farming, with 35% strongly believing this.
  • 35% of young people would consider a career in food and farming, but only 22% have received relevant careers information.
  • 65% would look online and 20% on social media to find out more about farming.
  • 42% said that short (30 second) videos were the preferred choice for content.

Following the outcomes of the research programme, a new road-map for teenager outreach is being drawn up by LEAF Education in consultation with the agri-food industry.

Carl Edwards, Director, LEAF Education said: “Engaging young people in farming and food production is vital to the future of the agricultural industry as well as for their own health and wellbeing.  We know that strengthening connection can help promote healthier lifestyles and nurture a lifelong interest in the natural world, helping to build a sense of their own personal responsibility in protecting it.”

More information on the findings and the conference can be found here.

About Rothamsted Research
Rothamsted Research is the longest-running agricultural research institute in the world. We work from gene to field with a proud history of ground-breaking discoveries, from crop treatment to crop protection, from statistical interpretation to soils management. Our founders, in 1843, were the pioneers of modern agriculture, and we are known for our imaginative science and our collaborative influence on fresh thinking and farming practices.
Through independent science and innovation, we make significant contributions to improving agri-food systems in the UK and internationally. In terms of the institute’s economic contribution, the cumulative impact of our work in the UK was calculated to exceed £3000 million a year in 20151. Our strength lies in our systems approach, which combines science and strategic research, interdisciplinary teams and partnerships.
Rothamsted is also home to three unique resources. These National Capabilities are open to researchers from all over the world: The Long-Term Experiments, Rothamsted Insect Survey and the North Wyke Farm Platform.
We are strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), with additional support from other national and international funding streams, and from industry. We are also supported by the Lawes Agricultural Trust (LAT).
For more information, visit; Twitter @Rothamsted
1Rothamsted Research and the Value of Excellence: A synthesis of the available evidence, by Séan Rickard (Oct 2015)

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.
BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.
Funded by government, BBSRC invested £469 million in world-class bioscience in 2016-17. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.
More information about BBSRC, our science and our impact.
More information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes

About LAT
The Lawes Agricultural Trust, established in 1889 by Sir John Bennet Lawes, supports Rothamsted Research’s national and international agricultural science through the provision of land, facilities and funding. LAT, a charitable trust, owns the estates at Harpenden and Broom's Barn, including many of the buildings used by Rothamsted Research. LAT provides an annual research grant to the Director, accommodation for nearly 200 people, and support for fellowships for young scientists from developing countries. LAT also makes capital grants to help modernise facilities at Rothamsted, or invests in new buildings.