Eastbourne Primary School students have been spending this week on the land – well, virtually, at least – to learn about the importance of farmers and farming as part of the school’s Farm Week.
The Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority, as part of its Farms2Schools program, organised five free live virtual incursions with local farmers to teach the Foundation to Grade 6 students about the process of how agricultural products get from the paddock to their plate. The students have been investigating food and fibre production on sheep, chicken, beef and berry farms, as well as market gardens, bee products and honey, and commercially grown flowers. Many of these farms strive to be organic and practise regenerative principles.
The school also embarked on a range of farm-themed complementary literacy, numeracy and STEAM activities this week, with the children designing chemical-free snail and slug catchers for the market garden farmers, scary ‘bird of prey’ kites to help the berry farmers keep birds off their crops, and rounding off the week with a dress-up day today.
Principal Stephen Wilkinson said the activities and virtual farm excursions were an innovative way for students to experience life on a local farm and to raise awareness of the various careers across the region’s agricultural industry. “It is also a way of backing up what we do in our Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program and showing how a larger amount of produce is grown,” Mr Wilkinson said.
“It takes a lot to feed a growing city. To meet the nutritional needs of Melbourne’s five million-plus residents, we need constant access to a wide variety of good-quality, locally grown food. With the average age of Australian farmers currently sitting at 57 years, young people discovering what day-to-day careers and lifestyles look like on the land is a critical part of planning for future food security.
“We are delighted modern-day technology is enabling students to experience the joy of being transported to magical places, opening their eyes to vital educational opportunities. To add a Melbourne Show flavour to the week, as part of the dress-up day all students can purchase a showbag.”
The Farms2Schools project is delivered by the Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority in partnership with AUSVEG VIC and is supported by the State Government through the Working for Victoria initiative.
This article was updated on November 4 to correct two errors in information supplied to the school.