NSW Farmers is teaming up with farmers across the state to offer a range of primary-production enterprises and experiences to primary-school students participating in its Kids to Farms program.
Funded by the Australian federal government, the Kids to Farms Program aims to enable every child in New South Wales to experience two educational interactions with the agricultural sector before they turn 12 years old.
So far, 10 farming enterprises from across the state have signed up to the program. They include Central Coast primary producer Virginia Mall, a participant of NSW Farmers’ Visit my Farm program. Mall, who runs a small mixed-farming operation and agri-tourism venture, is looking forward providing “countless teachable opportunities” to schoolkids via the program.
Thousands of primary-school children are set to benefit, gaining first-hand experience of Australia’s agriculture sector and of the pathway from farm to fork.
Federal support for early on-farm learning
NSW Farmers received a $900,000 grant in mid-2020 from the Department of Agriculture’s $5 million ‘Educating Kids About Agriculture: Kids to Farms’ community grants fund to deliver the program across the state. The funding extends until mid-2022.
The federal government has committed $4.75 million to the Educating Kids About Agriculture: Kids to Farms program with NSW Farmers receiving a $900,000 grant to deliver the program across the state.
Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud stressed the importance of having children see career potential in the agriculture sector, especially given the significant role it is expected to play in Australia’s post-pandemic recovery.
“A key part of this program is to showcase to our kids the breadth of career opportunities available in agriculture,” Mr Littleproud said.
“The kids of today will be the farmers, agri-scientists, livestock agents, biosecurity officers – even ag ministers – of tomorrow.
“Australia’s farming sector will lead our recovery out of COVID-19 and there has never been a better time for young Australians to study and pursue a career in agriculture.”
Hands-on, interactive farm experiences
NSW Farmers President James Jackson is enthusiastic about the initiative, an extension of the organisation’s successful Visit my Farm program.
“From the far west of the state to the south and north coast, students in all areas will have the opportunity to visit a farm in their local area and learn more about where local food and fibre comes from,” Jackson says.
“With agriculture being rolled out across the NSW Curriculum, we aim to provide teachers and students with an opportunity to learn about Australia’s food and fibre production in a hands-on, interactive environment with the farmer.”
“We know that 59 per cent of students learn what they know about food and fibre production from their teachers. We cannot underestimate the importance of our primary teachers in supporting our kids to engage with the agricultural industry.”
Mr Jackson says the program combines digital programs and on-farm experience.
“We’ve launched our website so that farmers across NSW can get on board with schools to deliver hands-on, practical experiences,” he says.
“This is a fantastic program and I encourage farmers to get involved.”
What’s involved in being a Kids to Farms host
Farmers keen to get involved need to be willing and able to offer site visits to their property and to talk with students about daily farming activities and the overall operation. Depending on the farm set-up, students may be offered the chance to:
- pat and/or feed farm animals;
- gather farm produce – fruit, vegetables, eggs;
- taste products such as cheese, honey, fruit and/or vegies produced on-farm;
- watch demonstrations of shearing, herding, milking, harvesting or cheese-making; and/or
- talk with the farmer and/or farm workers about topics relevant to what the kids are learning at school about food and fibre production.
The program will also develop a cohort of ‘agriculture ambassadors’ to engage with students who may be unable to participate in farm visits, with activities including:
- incursions, in which ag ambassadors visit students to give presentations, talks and/or demonstrations, and bring products and/or farm animals to show students;
- virtual farm and ag-facility tours, farm and agricultural worker interviews and Q&A sessions; and/or
- introductions to farm-based ‘pen pals’.
NSW Farmers media release, May 2021
Farmers ready to go with Kids to Farms program I The Farmer magazine (NSW Farmers)