Strong cultural message steals the show

Last Thursday was the 1st day of the Sydney Royal Easter Show 2013 and as has become a highlight of my year, once again I ventured to the show to judge the Schools  District Exhibits Display.

My goodness after judging this section for 3 years wow is the competition heating up. This year just four points separated 1st and 4th.

Firstly a bit of background. The competition has the dual purpose of showcasing talented young people and their team work from NSW schools as well as identifying, encouraging and mentoring young people to feed into the iconic District Exhibit Display teams.


The Iconic District Exhibits in 2013

This year everyone agreed ( including a number of judges of the big displays) that all four schools had taken the competition to a whole new level.

It wasn’t just the quality of the design, creativity, artistic merit and innovation that caught the judges attention. Equally impressive was how the students engaged with the judges (and the general public) and their levels of energy. I was so impressed with the professionalism of the students. They energised me. They really knew their stuff. How to tell the story of the development of the big ideas, why they were so passionate about their theme and how well the teams came together. I could go on for ever they were all just mind-blowing         


But we can only have one winner and this year’s winner of the Schools District Exhibits Display competition was Woodenbong Central School who bravely addressed a very powerful cultural issue through there very thought provoking display.

Woodenbong Central School District Exhibit

Building Respect in Our Communities

My two fellow judges Andrew Barnum and Nicole Punt are both well known in the art and design world and once again I benefited immensely from their broad experience and expertise.

As Andrew explained this was a “an artwork with a simple clear message that takes a viewer into the artist’s world and holds them there, makes a connection and leaves a lasting impression”

I approached the judging from a farmer perspective being highly appreciative that all of these wonderful young people were helping me tell farming stories to my urban customers – the lifeblood of every farmer’s business.

Tying for second place was Muirfield High School who reached out to the Art4Agriculture ethos in me with their display that showed how their school agriculture department was ‘opening the door to a green future by inspiring young people to take up careers in the agri-food sector’  

Muirfield High School

Agricultural education opening the door to a greener future

Equal second this year was Calrossy Anglican School whose display had a strong sustainability theme and an equally strong sense of community. You could even smell the Lucerne in their backdrop, their country region just wafted out to you


And a very close third was Menai High School who also had a strong focus on sustainability. Using a big foot as the central focus the display moved in the background from the drab colours of the smoke stacks and cooling towers of the mining industry to the bright green fields of produce and very clever examples of sustainable energy use

As you can see months of preparation and blood, sweat and tears goes into the displays and I am confident you will join me in saluting everyone involved

Giving next gen a voice at the Sydney Royal Easter Show

One of the major objectives of the Archibull Prize is to give students a voice through their artwork to not only promote the program and its key messages to hundreds of thousands of people, but to showcase the students’ opinions, learnings and values to the community.

Art4Agricultures partnership with the RAS of NSW (through the Sydney Royal Easter Show) and the RNA of Queensland ( through the Ekka ) gives us a wonderful opportunity to do this

This is how the clever team in the Food Farm have achieved this in 2013 at the Sydney Royal Easter Show

Archibull Prize in the Food Farm

James Ruse Agricultural High School and Model Farms High School

De La Salle

De La Salle College


Shoalhaven High School


Hills Adventist College and Macarthur Anglican School


Cranebrook High School


Wyong High School and Muirfield High School

Tuggerah Lakes

Tuggerah Lakes Secondary School, Berkeley Vale Campus 

Caroline Chisholm College and Winmalee High School

Caroline Chisholm College and Winmalee High School

The Farming Game

It is often said that young people are the leaders of tomorrow but like our guest blogger today and so many of our Young Farming Champions have shown young people are also the leaders of today. If you give them half a chance they will astound you with their energy and idealism. More importantly, they will impress you with their maturity and willingness to engage constructively in the process of improving our local communities and the future for agriculture.

Our guest blogger today in Martin Murray who also pens his own very impressive blog the The Farming Game.

Martin is another superb example of the new generation of talented young people from across our agricultural industries working together to help address the negative image and perceptions about agriculture in the wider community.  clip_image014

This is Martin’s story……………………

G’day my name is Martin Murray and I know that agriculture is essential to Australia and its future. I’m a blogger.  I’ve worked on a cattle station in the Northern Territory and currently work on a cotton farm outside of Moree. This year I am about to start a Rural Science course at the University Of New England. clip_image002

I was born in Griffith in the Riverina; our family had rice and sheep property called Kulki on the Sturt highway between Darlington Point and Hay, it was here where I developed my passion for agriculture and farming.


Kulki from the air

My two younger brothers and I used to have be up a six and ride down the 1km driveway to the bus stop for the two hour bus trip to school in Coleambally.


The Murray brothers

Other great memories include taking the late lunch down to my dad who was driving the tractor at 5pm in the afternoon, the crop dusters flying low across the water seeding the rice paddies and swimming in the channels.


My bothers and I singing in the rain

Martin on the quad bike

Unfortunately there were big gaps between the wet and the dry seasons and drought eventually forced us to sell up and move to Moree in northern NSW.

For a while after that I wasn’t that heavily involved in agriculture but I still always thought that it would be in my future. My dad started working in town and we had a small a hobby farm of just 27 acres with about six head of cattle from time to time. I went to boarding school in Sydney were I soon learned the many misconceptions and lack of understanding about agriculture outside of rural areas, but I’ll get to that later. While at school I studied agriculture and started working on a cotton farm outside of Moree during the school holidays mainly irrigating the cotton and also driving tractors.

After finishing school I got a job working on Humbert River Station, a cattle station with plenty of history in the Northern Territory.

Humbert River Station  Map

Humbert River is located 5 hours from the nearest town of Katherine. It is a relatively small station of only about 1500 square kilometres running 13000 head of Brahman cattle and turning off around 3000 head of cattle a year. Humbert River Station

Working on Humbert was a very unique experience not just because of size, location and isolation but because of the size of its crew. Unlike previous years where they had a crew of six stockmen in 2012 they were trialling the use of contractors for stock work so there was only the manager and his family, me and a cook/jillaroo that left half way through the year. This made my time on Humbert River different to the majority of other people’s experiences working on stations as instead of primarily doing stock work I mainly did other tasks such as fencing, bore runs, loader work and putting out cattle lick blocks

Due to the unique nature of Humbert River Station I also had a lot of spare time on my hands so I started writing my blog, The Farming Game. The aim of my blog is to show my daily life and what we do and why we do it. Around the time I started writing Four Corners aired “Another Bloody Business” about the slaughter of Australian sheep in Pakistan. Like the the forerunner program “A Bloody Business” this program used highly emotive images to portray Australian agriculture in a negative light.

These images are only increasing consumer wariness of modern farming practices and it concerns me greatly that agriculture is constantly being portrayed in the media as having  bad environmental practices as well as the negativity around genetically modified crops and excessive water use.  I have since found issues like these have been around for a long time and the day before writing this article I heard a song by Slim Dusty “To Whom It May Concern”  which was released in 1978 that highlights that the rural urban divide was an issue even back then. I hope my blog The Farming Game will help people rethink and see agriculture more positively.

Whilst I was at school I heard some pretty amusing things from my fellow students who have never crossed the Great Dividing Range and had the opportunity to discover all the exciting things rural and regional Australian has to offer. The most amusing one I came across was from a city class mate who believed that Dubbo was just a one street town with a population of no more than 100. Although I found this hilarious at the time it really highlights the problem of the divide and the need to change perceptions of, and promote rural Australia and it’s importance to the national economy and society as well as all the opportunities in rural cities.

Underpinning my strategy to bridge the divide is to make our country shows more interactive and to bring more farmers to events in the cities where people can hear the farming stories and see the faces behind the produce they buy.

Social media such as twitter and the many blogs written by farmers are also having a great effect on bridging the divide. Bringing the farm to schools and introducing students to young farmers like the Art4Agriculture programs is a great way to get the message across to children. Programs like this not only help build awareness of, and interest in agriculture, they help create a new generation of agricultural-savvy Australians. Some may even choose agricultural careers whilst many others will know more about where their food comes from and appreciate the care and commitment that goes into growing the shirt on their back or putting the steak on their dinner plate. Hopefully Art4Agriculture will be able to spread their programs to all states in Australian and reach more Australian children.

As for my future my biggest challenge starts this year studying Rural Science at the University of New England while hopefully being able to continue writing my blog as well as working on my other two websites Farming Photo’s and Cotton Careers. My major goal in life is to own and run my own mixed cattle and cropping property, while continuing to promote agriculture and bridging the rural urban divide.


Congratulations Martin, Art4Agriculture look forward to following your journey. Maybe you might even find the time to join the team for 2013

Archibull Prize draws new patronage from the arts community

Our special guest of honour at the Archibull Prize Awards and Exhibition Day was Sara Leonardi- McGrath.

Sara McGrath 3

Sara McGrath and Young Farming Champion Richie Quigley announcing  the Archibull Prize 2012 Winner

Sara McGrath 2

and the winner is …. James Ruse Agricultural High School

Sarah had some exciting news for the schools in the audience and we are ecstatic to announce that eight of our 2012 Archibulls will go on exhibition at MCLEMOI GALLERY, Sara Leonardi-McGrath’s contemporary art gallery, in Sydney next month.

Sarah Mc BV

Sara with some of the team from Tuggerah Lakes Secondary School, Berkeley Vale Campus whose cow will be on display her gallery from Jan 15 to 25th 2013

I was first contacted by Sara on twitter just after the launch of the Australian Year of the Farmer. We had coffee and it was clear she was a great admirer of women in the farming sector and was keen to promote Australian farmers in a hands on way.


Sara is keen to promote Australian farmers using her unique talents and Art4Agriculture couldn’t be happier

It is also highly evident that Sara was passionate about the development and education of next gen and enabling young people to reach their full potential. Excitingly for me and the team, Sara felt Art4Agriculture offered her a unique opportunity to deliver her vision for the promotion of our farmers and development of youth using her area of speciality the arts sector.

At that time Sara was spending every spare moment searching inner city real estate for the prefect place to open her art gallery and in June this year she opened MCLEMOI GALLERY at 45 Chippen Street, Chippendale.


MCLEMOI GALLERY – a unique space to exhibit the “Archibulls” 

The gallery is known for representing Australian and international, established and emerging contemporary artists; and it certainly is a unique space to exhibit the “Archibulls.”

Sara has been in contact all year and is a huge supporter of the program and is always interested in our progress and the students’ artworks. We are thrilled she has invited the Archibulls to MCLEMOI.  Sara is a great believer that educating our children is the most important role we have as a society. “While MCLEMOI’s main focus is on exhibiting Australian and international contemporary art, we are also committed to creating a sense of community and learning. We choose to support initiatives that focus on education, specifically in the arts. Providing an opportunity for these students to have their works exhibited in a commercial gallery, introduces them to professional artistic practices and hopefully instils in them a stronger interest and knowledge with art and culture” Sara said  

Sara considers the fact that their artworks explore agricultural concepts builds an even more compelling reason to showcase their works. “Children need to be better informed when choosing what to eat as well as understanding where our food comes from.  This is a vital  first step in making informed choices. If we at MCLEMOI are able to encourage even one child to look further into the arts, if even by exploring other artists we work with; then we believe we have achieved our goal of fostering a generation of people who will also have a love and appreciation for the arts. This may only be achieved through exposure and creating an opportunity to be involved in the arts through galleries, whether it be commercially or not” Sara said  

Hopefully the students will have an opportunity to explore the Museum of Contemporary Art and the White Rabbit, which are only stone throws away from MCLEMOI, while they are in Sydney .

We thank Sara for agreeing to host the Archibulls and invite you to visit them in Sydney.

The Archibulls will be on display at MCLEMOI GALLERY from 15 – 25 January 2013.

The gallery is open from Tuesday – Saturday, between 11am – 6pm at 45 Chippen Street, Chippendale.

Exhibiting schools are:

· Model Farms High School

· Macarthur Anglican School

· James Ruse Agricultural High School

· Cranebrook High School

· Tuggerah Lakes Secondary College, Berkeley Vale Campus

· Winmalee High School

· Hills Adventist College

· De La Salle College Caringbah

Not just for Young Picassos

The Archibull Prize is an engaging, fun and interactive way of connecting communities with the people who produce their food and fibre.

The program builds a bridge for farmers and communities to reach out to each other, share stories and improve understanding and work through potential solutions together.

As part of their quest to win the Archibull Prize the students have to complete 3 elements and prizes will be awarded on the 6th December 2012 in the following categories .

  • Best Cow – $500
  • Best Blog – $500
  • Best Project video or PowerPoint – $500
  • Overall Winning School – Archibull Prize – $1000
  • You can take a sneak peak of the video and PowerPoint entries here


James Ruse Agricultural High School

James Ruse Agricultural High School talks about their Archie

Tuggerah Lakes Secondary College Berkeley Vale Campus

De La Salle College

Caroline Chisholm College talks about their Archie

Winmalee High School talks about their Archie

Shoalhaven High School

Gunnedah High School

St Michael’s Catholic School

Wyong High School – to be loaded shortly

Hills Adventist College

Abbotsleigh College

Macarthur Anglican School

Elizabeth Macarthur School

Jamison High School


Muirfield High School

Model Farms High School

Cranebrook High School

Camden Haven High School to be loaded shortly

You learn something new everyday

This weekend Art4agriculture hosted the 2012 Young Farming Champions for Workshop 2 in Brisbane.

We chose Brisbane as the venue to coincide with the Ekka. All the moons were aligned  including our superstar videographer Tay Plain being in the country and able to join us for the full three days.

I will do a blog post on the workshop component shortly but first I would like to share our Ekka big day out with you Tay and Ann IMG_4584

Tay and Ann set up at the Ekka

It started with breakfast at Southbank…….

Breakfast at Denim atI South Bank MG_4238 

We did the smart thing and picked the restaurant with most patrons ( well done Kirsty) and we weren’t disappointed with what Denim dished up for us. Those large lattes in the soup bowls were to die for.

As we had Tay our videographer whizz and and our producer, script writer extraordinaire Ann Burbrook both with us at the same time  we were determined to share as much of the Ekka agriculture story as we could.

a Jess and Tom IMG_4593

Tom and Jess at the Dairy Youth Challenge

Using our 2012 Young Farming Champions as both “talent, producers and interviewers” we spent the day  learning from each other, other exhibitors and the punters.

Sammi IMG_4423

Sammi gets up close and personal with the Woolley Jumpers

Lauren Hayden IMG_4450

Lauren, Hayden, Ann and Tay set up the sheep shearing story


Madie IMG_4519

Madie spruiked the Archibull Prize

Kathleen and Lauren IMG_4439

Kathleen and Lauren talked all things fleece

Water a Gold Medal Resource with a Price tag to Match IMG_4299

Kylie discovered that bottled water was liquid gold at the Ekka


We tasted the prime beef which we washed down with Ekka cocktails


Jess IMG_4310

Jess made new friends

and we all discovered much to our delight that the general public where not the least bit concerned about dining in the paddock to plate experience


We visited Heidi at the Ekka Target 100 display which featured QLD primary schools painting Archies at the show 


Ann and Jersey Calf IMG_4363

Ann found the perfect house cow

Steph F IMG_4279

Steph inspired Next Gen F at the Junior District Exhibits

Bess and Edison IMG_4470

We even met the famous @auscottongirl Bess Gairns with her new pride and joy

Megan IMG_4526

Megan talked a lot of bull


and the bulls did a little dance

Little MiraclesNew borns

This was a very interesting concept. No lambs were born whilst we were there so we didn’t get to gauge audience reaction!!! 

It was a great day but sadly every now and then, thankfully in the very small minority there was an industry naysayer determined to ruin the day. There was the whinging beef stud breeder who just couldn’t understand why his animals had to share the showground with non stud breeders. Yes that’s right the general public. Yes you heard right. The most important people in the food supply chain. Yes he was lucky enough to have that once a year opportunity to talk to and share his story with the people who buy what he produces and he them found quite irritating. 

Then there was the guy in the dairy shed I just wanted to hit over the head when I found out later he told the YFC’s they were wasting their time talking to non farmer audiences.  

But nothing dampened the spirit of the YFC’s. Today they are back on farm or at uni organising school visits and media interviews doing whatever it takes to continue the  journey and spread the great story of agriculture across all the bridges.


Fascinated by Plants

Art4agriculture’s vision is for business and industry to work alongside education authorities, schools and students to support the learning and development of young people and enable all young Australians to reach their potential. We have a whole of industry vision and collaborate and cross-promote widely through our diverse and extensive communications network.

Today’s guest post comes from Arwen Cross from the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics and one of the team behind Fascination in Plants Day


Antartic Beech

Arwen’s favourite plant is the Antarctic Beech.

She likes their gnarly trunks, but these trees are her special favourite because they have Antarctic in their name. When Arwen was 12 she decided she was going to be a scientist in Antarctica. But when she grew up and became a biochemist she discovered there were no pretty icebergs in her lab. So she decided talking about science would be more fun than doing it, and became a science communicator. She is still waiting to find a job that features icebergs, but in the meantime working with plants at ACPFG is pretty fascinating.

Here is what Arwen has to say about her obsession for all things from the Viridiplantae family  ….  

From peppery smell of eucalyptus on a hot summer’s day, to getting wet feet watering my silverbeet before work – I love plants. That’s why I’m so excited about helping organise Fascination of Plants Day in Australia.

My name’s Arwen, and I’m a science communicator. I work at the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics in Adelaide. The scientists here are working hard to make better varieties of wheat and barley for Australian farmers. They’re particularly interested in helping plants tolerate drought and salinity.


Girls in the glasshouse. Monica Ogierman, Alison Hay and Arwen Cross are fascinated by plants.Read some more about Monica and Alison below

My job, as a science communicator, is to help the scientists explain their plant science to other people. But we want to hear what other people think about plants and plant science too! That’s why we’re organising the Fascination of Plants Day video competition.

Australian secondary students have a chance to win $1000 by filming videos about plants or plant science. The videos should be up to 3 minutes in length. If you want more information, or if you’re ready to enter your video, go to

I had fun making a video about the students and scientists here at the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics. Do you like plants for the same reasons as they do?

Want some inspiration



More about Arwen’s team


I first heard about DNA in grade 10 – I thought it was the coolest thing: a molecule that encodes LIFE! I said to myself “When I grow up, I want to be a molecular biologist and help people”.  After many years of study at The University of Adelaide, I become one, and researched bugs (bacteria) that make people sick. Really sick.  I worked at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital and a lab in Germany as a research scientist.  Now, I’ve ‘seen the light’ and work in the field of plants (get it…field!). I communicate with the community about research ACPFG does on wheat on barley, because these plants are important for our food supply. I also have the privilege of working with our postgraduate students, who will become world-class plant scientists when they grow up. Not a bad way to earn to a living!



Alison fell in love with a horticulturist when she was 19 and since then she’s been surrounded by plants!   She studied Botany at uni and could be found surveying native plants just about anywhere in South Australia, from the arid North to the wetlands of the South East.  She also found out weird things about plants – like they have hormones!  She ended up marrying the horticulturist and whenever they travel they try to visit as many national parks as possible.  Alison’s favourite tree is the giant sequoia. There’s a forest of them in California and some of them are around 3,000 years old!  She also loves tiny little mosses, like the ones that grow in New Zealand.  When she’s not looking at plants in different countries she works as a Research Officer trying to find out how wheat and barley grow in soil when the nutrients are not always in the right proportions!

You can contact the video competition organisers by emailing