17 February 2022

Educating young people about real life on the land

| Sally Hopman
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Girl feeding alpacas

Youngsters are invited to get up close and personal with farm animals through the Kids to Farms program run by NSW Farmers. Photo: Supplied.

Do your kids think milk comes from the fridge, cheese from plastic or eggs from cartons?

There’s now a great opportunity to teach them the real story about where things come from – and you can help local farmers in the process.

NSW Farmers has teamed up with the NSW Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment to run the Kids to Farms program, with $1500 grants on offer to help primary schools add a farm excursion to their curriculum so youngsters can uncover the real story of where their favourite foods come from – and play their part in caring for the environment.

By getting out of the classroom and into the paddock, youngsters can talk to farmers and see how the animals live.

READ ALSO Agriculture courses expand as farming industry booms

NSW Farmers Young Farming Council member and school teacher Charlotte Groves said more than 400 students had already taken part in the program since it began last year.

“Basically, the program is all about exposing young students to farming so they understand food and fibre production and are aware of opportunities in the sector,” Ms Groves said.

“Schools will be looking for something new and engaging for their students after the long COVID-19 lockdowns, and we’re saying look no further than a farm excursion through Kids to Farms.”

Farmer holding goat

Farm visitors can learn about handling goats as well as how to milk them and produce cheese. Photo: Supplied.

Some of the local farms involved in the project include Hollycott Farm at Jugiong, Peppermint Ridge at Braidwood, Blackwattle Alpacas and Babylon Farm at Murrumbateman.

All are working farms where the youngsters can gain more general knowledge on basic farm maintenance including weed, waste and water management, or drill down into more specialised topics such as animal husbandry at the alpaca farms and uses for the luxury fibre.

At Babylon, students can get up close and personal with the farm goats and learn how to milk them and make cheese. Animal feeding, a shearing demonstration, collecting eggs and other farm activities are also on the agenda.

READ ALSO The life-changing highs and lows of living on a farm

At Peppermint Ridge, Braidwood, students can learn how agriculture and the environment can co-exist in a symbiotic landscape. This farm has been transformed from a treeless landscape to a grassy casuarina-rich woodland complete with flora and fauna, including the glossy black parrot. It also shows visitors the importance of a healthy natural environment where animals are run to fit the landscape rather than forcing the landscape to fit the animal.

Beef cattle farming is on show at Hollycott Farm Jugiong, located about halfway between Harden and Cootamundra, where students can see how the animals are raised in a regenerative grass-fed program. Visitors are treated to a wholistic view of farming with regeneration of the environment as well as sustainability a high priority where natural biodiversity and food production can work together to improve the land. As a result, there is an abundance of wildlife including kangaroos, echidnas, monitors and a wide variety of birds for visitors to see.

Schools across NSW have until December to take part in the Kids to Farms program. More information is available on NSW Farmers website.

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