A Year On….

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The recent anniversary of the floods that devastated many parts of rural Queensland and Brisbane got me, like many others, reflecting on the past twelve months. The images you see in this post were taken by a dear colleague of mine. This … Continue reading

The Journey Home

My daily travel takes me between two valleys, the Locker to the Brisbane. Forget the grind of car piled upon car, and the stop and go of traffic lights; this is a visual treat!

The soil is alluvial, rich and chocolately. It sustains an incredible array of farming, particularly horticulture. The floods of a year ago have gone, and the landscape is recovering, reflective of its generally forgiving nature.

Travelling along you will see an array of crops, dependent upon the season. Right now it is time for corn,onions, sorghum, and lucerne. The last of the beautiful mangoes will come onto the market soon, not as rosy as their northern cousins, but full of beautiful flavour.

Most of the cattle you see now are raised for beef. Years ago, these areas were spotted with flourishing dairy farms. The familiar black and white of the holstein and the brown eyed jersey were replaced by the santa gertrudis, brahman and charolais, and every beef crossbreed imaginable.

I am never dulled into complacency by the world outside my car window. It simply reminds me of the dynamic nature of farming and the generosity of the soil.

Fostering the farmers of the future.

Ever thought about mentoring our young in schools on your wealth of knowledge as a farmer?

Whilst the Year of The Farmer is about honoring the work of our hardworking men and women in Agriculture, there is so much experience and knowledge at hand to invest into future generations.

I love to bring mentors into our class. It is a mutually beneficial thing for that person and the young people they get to interract with.

When I take on a new class of Ag students, I am always interested to find out who may have a farming background, and if we can weave that into the program for the semester.

Last year we were lucky enough to have a dairy farmer and a couple of vegetable growers  who become involved from time to time in our classes. The experience was valuable to us all and the students were so genuinely appreciative of the time these folk spent with us, talking about their experiences, providing advice and practical experience.

There are several formalised mentoring programs about for farmers considering offering their time and experience to mentor young students.

Agforce Queensland have a unique program called the Rural Champions Program. It aims to promote the importance of Agriculture to Primary and Secondary students via volunteers, at promotional events and school to farm visits, or longer term mentoring in a particular school.

The Young Farming Champions Program , organised through Art4Agriculture, is a special initiative that trains young farmers from different disciplines to engage with students in local schools and promote the Art4Agriculture school program. It also allows them to directly market their particular industry to a captive school audience and its diverse career pathways.

For information on these programs, please refer to the following websites –

www.agforceqld.org.au                                   www.art4agriculture.com.au

On Teaching Food and Farming…

If you join one of my Junior Agriculture or Home Economics classes, you can’t escape the conversation about agriculture!! I won’t ever “bash” you over the head with facts or attempt to bore you. I just encourage you as a student to begin to reflect a little more and to hopefully engage your curiosity further …

In Home Economics we focus on the needs of the individual and family and the community. Food is something that nourishes and sustains us. Many of us spend a great deal of time buying it, preparing it  and we all have to eat. It would be possible, but reckless of me to let you think it all just came from a store or supermarket!  And yet I still commonly encounter students who are not sure what butter really is or that beef is from cattle. No one is made to feel silly; I consider it an honor to help you to find out more.

Upon commencing Agriculture, I ask my students for the “truth” as to why they joined the class. The reasons are varied and interesting. Last year they included such reasons as –

* It’s fun to work with your hands.

* This is a slacko subject!

* You don’t have to do much writing.

* You learn about fun stuff.

* You get to play with animals.

* You learn about farming.

I tell students at the start, that even if they are not interested in considering a career in Agriculture, that at the very least, they will come out with a new perspective on the importance of Agriculture to our everyday existence. We simply can’t survive without it.

Some are disappointed to learn that there is writing involved, as well as practical activities and soon most realise it can be great fun without being “slacko”. It is wonderful to watch the deeper conversations evolve from students who may not have thought of themselves as “smart”, and the questions that come tumbling out when exploring different aspects of the subject.

I don’t always have the answers, and I’m not afraid to admit that, which is why we love farming mentors, but I’ll lead all you potential farmers into that next time…..