Since August 2020, the Farms2Schools program has delivered 102 online incursions to 5,586 students all across the region. They’ve learnt about the many aspects of agriculture, including production, farm life, food variety, technology and careers. 

Many of the participating schools have shared their experiences and the positive relationships they’ve forged with their local farms, so we’ve gathered together some of highlights.

Eastbourne Primary School

Last week the entire study body at Eastbourne Primary School in Rosebud West participated in their own ‘Farm Week’. Principal Stephen Wilkinson said it was 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.

Through the Farms2Schools program, the PPWCMA organised five online 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. Students investigated food and fibre production across a wide range of agricultural industries: sheep, chicken, beef, berries, market gardens, bee products and honey and commercially grown flowers.

The school also ran a range of farm-themed complimentary literacy, numeracy and STEAM activities and concluded the week with a playful farm dress-up day. Pictured is the Principal Stephen Wilkinson with one of his little chicks!

Image courtesy of Eastbourne Primary School

Altona Meadows Primary School

Altona Meadows Primary School was recently treated to an online incursion with Velisha Farms which included a hand-on cooking session using fresh vegetables from the farm.

The students were treated to a virtual tour from Catherine of Velisha Farms and loved every minute of it. The students and teachers said of the incursion “It was so informative and the students LOVED the fresh vegetables you gave us- you’re pretty popular at AMPS now!

“We made San Choy Boy served in a lettuce cup with chicken mince, zucchini, spring onions & broccoli. The garlic, coriander & carrots used were from our school garden! Students also sampled some roasted cauliflower with the leaves left on, which was a hit!

“We know that farmer Catherine is passionate about growing cauliflowers and we could taste the deliciousness. The celery and cucumber given to us, were dipped in a roasted beetroot and tahini dip!”

Image courtesy of Altona Meadows Primary School

Derinya Primary School

Derinya Primary School’s Grade Six students recently participated in an online incursion with Gippslamb. Gillian from Gippsland took 120 captivated students on a virtual tour of the farm, where they saw sheep, lambs, chickens and a pony and learnt lots of information about them.

The school said is was a very informative and interesting session and the students loved seeing the farm.

“Gillian was very friendly and easy to understand and gave all the information in a very clear and easy to understand way. She had a lovely manner with the students and certainly showed them some lovely aspects of her beautiful farm and its animals. It was also great to see and hear about the sustainable practices that operate throughout the farm.”

As an additional activity, the students were asked to imagine what it would be like looking at silhouettes of animals when the sun is setting over the rolling hills of the Gippsland properties they learnt about.

Image courtesy of Derinya Primary School

Dromana Primary School

Dromana Primary School was recently visited (virtually!) by Beekeeper Simon and his assistant Alex, who is studying science at Monash University.

Simon and Alex explained the role of an apiarist/beekeeper to 50 Grade One students and gave them a close up look at how a bee hive operates.

The students got to ask them lots of questions, such as “Is the queen the boss of the hive?” “How do bees make honey?” “Why are the girl bees the workers and not the boys? and “Can bees catch coronavirus?”

After the session the students were tasked with writing letters to Simon and Alex to tell them all about what they learnt.

Alex and Simon were touched by the influx of appreciation, with Alex remarking “The letters are so beautiful! Thank you for giving us the opportunity to teach these students about bees! I’ve love teaching science and agriculture to kids via the Farms2Schools program and I am definitely thinking about how that looks in a future career.“

Farms2Schools is delivered by the PPWCMA in partnership with AUSVEG VIC and is supported by the Victorian Government’s Working for Victoria initiative.

In August 2019, the PPWCMA’s Regional Agriculture Facilitator, Karen Thomas, delivered three native bee forums across the region with local Landcare networks and groups, local councils, Box Hill Institute and Agribusiness Yarra Valley.

Over 250 participants attended and learned about:

Many thanks to forum participants for their excellent questions. Each Q&A panel sessions ran for close to 45 minutes, showing the level of interest and the knowledge gained from these forums.

The has already been some great ere was a click frenzy when Julian discussed how to re-purpose blackberry canes into suitable nesting substrate (bee hotels) for reed bees (Exoneura). Several farmers have already built their reed bee hotels! If you’ve made your reed bee hotel since the forums, please share it on the PPWCMA Grows Agriculturee Facebook page.

We will keep up to date with Kit, Julian and Katja’s native bee research and invite the speakers back in a few years for follow up events. Follow PPWCMA Grows Agriculture on Facebook for updates.

Related information

Pollinators drive biodiversity with over 75% of the world’s plants needing insect pollinators in order to reproduce. These pollinators provide ecosystem services in the natural landscapes as well as in agriculture and urban environments.

Australia has around 1,700 species of native bees, with more species being discovered each year. Native bees are important pollinators of Australia’s wildflowers. They also make an important contribution to Australian agriculture, through crop pollination. Populations of native bees can be threatened by land clearing and pesticide use.

At these special forums, learn more about native bees and other pollinators, their habitat requirements and how to improve the biodiversity of your property to increase native bee populations and benefit from the services they provide as specialised crop pollinators.

Free events. Light catering provided.

Speakers:

Kit Prendergast
PhD candidate, Curtin University WA (via video)

Native bees and protecting their habitat

Dr Katja Hogendoorn
Research Associate, University of Adelaide
Native bees and crop pollination (canola, fruits and vegetable production)

Dr Julian Brown
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Australian National University

Native bees in orchards, berry farms, and nature reserves

Karen Thomas
Port Phillip & Westernport CMA
Hover flies and other important invertebrates

Event dates:

Monday 26th August, 6.30pm-8.30pm
Darley Civic and Community Hub, 182 Halletts Way, Darley (Bacchus Marsh)
Hosted by PPWCMA, Moorabool Shire, Moorabool Landcare Network, Moorabool Catchment Landcare Group and Farming Moorabool

Book now

Tuesday 27th August, 1.30pm-3.30pm
Box Hill Institute, Centre for Biosecurity Excellence
Building LC Auditorium, 1 Jarlo Dve, Lilydale
Hosted by PPWCMA, Agribusiness Yarra Valley, Yarra Ranges Landcare Network and Box Hill Institute

Book now

Wednesday 28th August, 9:30am-11:30am
Bayles Public Hall, 660 Kooweerup Longwarry Rd, Bayles
Hosted by PPWCMA and Western Port Catchment Landcare Network

Book now

For more information contact Karen Thomas M: 0427 480 170 E: karen.thomas@ppwcma.vic.gov.au