The question engage or educate and why it matters?

If we want our children to know where their food comes from; if we want them to be motivated to care about the lives and livelihoods of farmers; if we want them to take seriously the environmental impacts of their food choices; and if we want them to know more about how their health is affected by the way food is made, perhaps we need to rethink the place of food production

This knowledge has been lost since we all became so reliant on the industrial agriculture system; we should talk to the experts – the farmers – so we can get it back. We don’t just need more urban agricultural initiatives, including food-producing back, front and median-strip gardens, school kitchen gardens, community gardens and city farms. We also need a transfer of knowledge from rural farmers. We need Australia’s farmers to be intimately involved in the development of innovative and efficient urban agricultural practices to assure our future food security.

The Conversation https://theconversation.edu.au/urban-food-knowledge-does-yoghurt-grow-on-trees-in-cities-5777

Art4Agriculture has taken up this challenge through the Archibull Prize. The program uptake this year has been phenomenal with 40 plus schools participating in this fun and engaging initiative that uses art and multimedia to tap into a whole new generation of young people

Art4Agricultre Archibull Prize

Original landscape image by Peter Dalder

Our ability to reach more schools particularly in NSW where the program has been running for 3 years has only been limited by funding.

Queensland has been a little more challenging, but experience tells us word of mouth amongst schools, teachers friends and parents will mean Queensland schools will be queuing up in 2014 at the same rate NSW schools are.

The Archibull Prize is not about ‘educating’ people per se about agriculture. We believe it is the only program in the world allowing young people in the agrifood sector to go into schools and engage with the next generation of consumers and decisions makers to build an understanding of each other’s challenges and constraints

I have created this program for two reasons

1. We ALL have to eat so farmers are important and as farmer I know it’s challenging to produce food and fibre in the current climate

2. Young people are our future and its important we invest in them

Personally I am not particularly worried that 27% of kids think yogurt grows on trees or that cotton grows on sheep.

  • What is important to me is that young people think farmers are committed, professional and caring
  • That the next generation of consumers, decision and policy makers think responsible agriculture is a legitimate user of Australia’s land and water
  • That young people don’t hear agricultural intensification and automatically think “factory farming”
  • That young people have the knowledge to make informed decisions about genetic modification
  • That young people think that farmers like everybody else are entitled to use technology
  • That young people want to work not only on my farm but see the agrifood sector as the place they want to be

And it’s working. We know this because the programs outcomes are measurable. Visibly through the artwork the students generate and the blogs, videos and PowerPoints they create. Quantitatively though program entry and exit surveys

What is exciting is our students are very receptive to putting their thinking hats on not only through the progression of their big ideas for their artwork design and also when we pose blog questions like:

  1. Why is food production so important for us nationally and globally?
  2. Choose one of the challenges faced by farmers and discuss the possible solutions.
  3. Why are regional towns and centres so important to the farming community? How will they be affected if changes to farming practices occur?
  4. Why is it so important for Australia to produce food for people outside of the country? What do you think would happen if we only worried about ourselves?
  5. Why do you think so much food wastage occurs? What actions will you take to help this problem?
  6. What does sustainability mean and how can you contribute to the cause? What different choices may you take as a consumer?
  7. What is natural resource management? Why do you think it is so important to get right? Think about some of the consequences if we don’t manage these resources properly.

For all those people who are concerned about students’ lack of paddock to plate knowledge our beef, wool, cotton and dairy industry resources our industry bodies send them do an amazing job of sharing this story

Just to prove we have got our strategy right the Victorian Depart of Environment and Primary Industries released the results the Victorian Attitudes to Farming survey in 2012

In summary they found

It is clear that among the Victorian public there is widespread support for farmers and sympathy towards them for the difficulties they face, but also a level of unease about some aspects of the industrialisation and corporate control of agriculture, especially among particular segments of the population.

There is substantial public concern about:

  1. Animal welfare
  2. Environmental sustainability
  3. Farmers’ ability to make a living from farming.
  4. Food safety (along with healthy, nutritious and good-tasting food) was viewed by the public as being more important than all other factors.

The research literature shows that concerns about environmental and animal welfare, and about certain other ‘credence attributes’ of foods, have grown among consumers in industrialised countries. In part, this trend stems from the success of industrial agriculture—and of modern distribution systems—in fulfilling western consumers’ basic food needs, by making affordable food abundantly available to most consumers in industrialised nations (though not to the consumers of all countries). Yet the dramatic increases in agricultural productivity achieved during the 20th century have not come without some costs to environmental sustainability, to animal welfare, and to other ‘ethical’ dimensions of food production (even though the severity of these consequences is contested). It appears that, as consumers become more food-secure, wealthier and better educated, many become concerned with addressing these negative consequences.

Our survey indicated that 31% of survey respondents had taken some action—such as protesting or, more often, altering their shopping habits—that could be interpreted as being critical of conventional agriculture (‘critical activism’).

The survey also indicated that 32% of Victorians valued environmental sustainability or animal welfare (or both) highly, and had a relatively low level of trust that farmers would address these issues without coercion.

Most of the individuals surveyed made expressions of unease about some aspects of contemporary agriculture, and such latent concern creates the potential for agriculture to experience periodic controversies or even crises of ‘social authorisation’, as has occurred previously with GM foods, mulesing and (in Europe) Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy and in Australia Live Export

The paper then asks and answers the questions

  1. How should government interpret and respond to those segments of the population that are critical of current farming practices?
  2. Are these individuals’ uninformed and forcing unnecessary and costly restraints on farming practices, or are they well-informed drivers of much-needed progress?

Where do Art4agriculture and the Archibull Prize come in? It would appear that these researchers strong agree with our philosophy

A number of agricultural stakeholders have aspired over the years to resolve controversies over farming issues by educating and engaging the public. The research in this project indicates that while this can make a contribution to resolving such controversies, it will not be sufficient.

The rationale for solving farm controversies by educating the public is premised on the assumption that farm controversies are waged between an ignorant public which needs to be educated and knowledgeable experts who can do the educating. The findings presented in this report show that individuals’ professed levels of knowledge about farming issues are relatively independent of their viewpoint about the issues.

The published literature indicates that differences in individuals’ views on ‘technical’ issues such as environmental sustainability and animal welfare derive not only from their level of attentiveness to scientific or expert knowledge, but also from partially subjective and social judgements about which sources of expert knowledge to trust, in the face of contested expertise

It also shows that cultural perspectives influence experts as well as the lay public, and that such perspectives can become institutionalised.

This suggests that divisions in public opinion cannot be reconciled without some engagement and conciliation between different experts and stakeholder groups. As well as educating the public, agricultural groups in government and industry will also need to listen and respond to concerns raised by the public and by other stakeholders groups (including lobby groups and other branches of government).

Testimonials from the students and our Young Farming Champions for the Archibull Prize

THE IMPACT ON OUR YOUNG FARMING CHAMPIONS

“At the [school] environmental club, the students were really interested in the environmental impacts and challenges the beef industry faced and their questions reflected this rather well. I found myself answering a lot of questions about the need for feedlots, waste management from processors and feedlots and how we can manage beef systems to ensure they are sustainable. The students were very switched on.”

Steph Fowler, Beef Young Farming Champion, 2012

The students had quite a few questions regarding different areas of cotton production – some science questions, some general farming, and others from the teachers that just wanted to know more. I loved the questions I was asked and they weren’t afraid to fire them at me!”

Tamsin Quirk, Cotton Young Farming Champion, 2012

“The school visits were great! I really enjoyed talking to the students and the teachers. Everyone was so excited about their Archibulls and I loved having the chance to look at what they were doing and listen to things they had discovered about agriculture. I also enjoyed being able to talk about my university course and I hope I was able to encourage some of them to think about a career in agriculture.”

Sammi Townsend, Wool Young Farming Champion, 2012

THE IMPACT OF THE ARCHIBULL PRIZE ON STUDENTS

“I had this idea in my head that genetic modification is this horrible idea and agriculture should just go back to the way it was in the ‘50s and after talking about it with our Young Farming Champion and learning about it I cannot love it more, I think science and technology have a definite future in the industry.”

Laura Bunting Student feedback, 2012

You can see Laura talking her school’s experience here

Enter video caption here

We rest our case

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

IMG_1948

Shoalhaven High School

IMG_1921

Hills Adventist College and Macarthur Anglican School

IMG_1954

Cranebrook High School

Wyong

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

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.

274822-mcgraths

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.

about

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

Agriculture could learn a lesson or two from the Wyong High School community

Today Art4Agricuture event director Kirsty John and I met with Sophie Davidson and Angela Bradburn in boardroom at Cotton Australia.
On the way in I was very excited to see this awesome display with the centrepiece being Wyong High School’s entry in the 2012 Archibull Prize

Cotton Australia  (3)

 

Sophie is Cotton Australia’s education officer and she is pretty special. She is particularly excited to have the Wyong Archi on display because not only does it give her an opportunity to talk about Cotton OZ’s involvement in the Archibull Prize to everyone who walks in the door, this cow reminds her of the wonderful outcomes you can get when you belong to a school community that has a collaborative and cohesive vision. Sophie was a school teacher in an earlier life and she is extremely proud of the way Wyong High School not only involved the whole school in their entry they bought the community on board as well.

Sophie has read every single cotton school’s blog entries (that’s a lot of blog entries), watched their videos and PowerPoint’s and Prezi’s, talk to all the teachers at the Awards Day, written a full report on the program for Cotton Australia and their farmer stakeholders and shared the students efforts with everybody in cotton world via every multimedia means possible. Wow all this in two weeks

I have visited every school and talked to the students and the teachers and looked at most of the videos and PowerPoints but as yet hadn’t had a chance to read all the blog posts. So my conversation with Sophie today inspired me to come home and read the Wyong story which you can find in the full here.

This school didn’t just write blogs posts, four of their IT student gurus created a website for the program. The below posts I have extracted from the blog are just a sample of how the school pulled off cross curricula and cross year partnerships to deliver  their amazing outcomes. This is very rewarding for me as this is exactly the way we hope all schools will see the program. We have designed the program this way as extensive research has shown that schools who partner with the community and teachers who work with each other deliver the best outcomes for their students. As you can see Wyong High School is certainly delivering in spades.

Extract from http://www.wyongarchi.netii.net/blog.html       

ARCHIBULL COMPETITION OVERVIEW

By Rachael Year 11

A massive amount of work has been put into the Archibull competition by a wide range of Wyong High students. Ranging from years 7 to 12, the students have put a lot of energy into making this competition fun and worthwhile. The activities include creating a blog with a wide variety of posts, making a video and painting a life size fibreglass bull.

The blog posts involved a wide range of students from years 7 to 12. Before even writing the posts, information had to be collected. A group of year 8 students interviewed Malcolm McDonald from Accuprint, while the year 8 Mathematics class, led by Mr Mathew, crunched some numbers to find out how much agricultural produce is required to sustain the Wyong community for a day. Ms Hastings with her year 10 Geography class researched and wrote the sustainability post.

After all the information and research was turned into posts, the awesome-foursome (IT boys from year 10) came to the aid of the year 8 students and designed the blog. After some year 11 students edited the posts, the awesome-foursome loaded the all of the posts.

As well as the blog posts a video was required for the competition. Year 9 students created the Archibull video and some year 11 boys provided the background music.

While all those computer geniuses were working their magic a different type of magic was being worked on the actual Archibull. The art students, directed by Mrs O’Kane, designed and painted the bull since the start. One of the ideas for the bull was to create a clothesline and hang cotton clothing from it. This idea was turned into reality when Mr Stanford’s year 8 Metals class built the Hills Hoist and Ms and Mrs Smith’s textiles class created the clothes. To finish it off the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students painted the final dots on Archibull.

While all the creative juices were flowing Ms Connally was cracking the whip to make sure all the deadlines were met.

This is just a small overview of all the hard work the students of Wyong High have put into the Archibull competition.

A few more insights here

SUSTAINABLE FOOD CONSUMPTION: HOW CAN WE BE PART OF THE SOLUTION?

Sustainable production and consumption is the use of goods and services that respond to basic needs and bring a better quality of life, while minimizing the use of natural resources, toxic materials and emissions of waste and pollutants over the life cycle, so as not to jeopardize the needs of future generations.

Sustainable production and consumption involves business, government, communities and households contributing to environmental quality through the efficient production and use of natural resources, the minimization of wastes, and the optimization of products and services.

Year 10 Geography 1 has researched the topic and produced the following mind map.

Wyong High School Mind Map

Information from IISD.

FEED AND CLOTHE WYONG FOR A DAY

What does it take to sustainably feed and clothe my community for a day?

During the last week of term 3 and the first week of term 4, a year 8 Mathematics class at Wyong High School worked on getting information about sustainable food and clothing for Wyong. 8 M2 gathered the population of both Sydney (4.6 million) and Wyong (150,000) and the amount of farming products each community consumes. So what does it actually take to feed and clothe Wyong? It takes roughly:

  • 354 pigs (9904kg)
  • 282,523 pieces of fruit and vegetables (68,178kg)
  • 46,429 hens (42,247 kg)
  • 294 beasts (18,822 kg of Meat and Livestock)
  • 12,722 dairy cows (59,260 kg) to provide milk
  • 1029 loaves of bread (22,603 kg of grain)
  • 28,767,123 bees that produce 411kg of honey
  • 267,123,288 grains of rice (5,346 kg)
  • 17 kg of Aquaculture per person, per year.

Cotton, which is the focus of our Archibull project here at Wyong High School, takes 978 hectares of land to produce 60 bales of cotton (13,724 kg) which clothes the Wyong area for a day. This equates to approximately 200 times the size of Wyong High School or about 1,438 football fields. Our research shows that it takes up to 30 times more farming produce to feed and clothe the population of Sydney. This reminds us that farmers are an invaluable part of the Australian lifestyle. Unfortunately, many people take our farmers for granted. Without them, we would not have food, clothes, dairy products, livestock, or our precious cotton.

For Sydney (population 4.6 million).

Feeding Sydney

Feed Wyong

ZARA

ZARA

Information gathered from: abs.gov.au

YES INDEED AGRICULTURE COULD LEARN A GREAT DEAL FROM WYONG HIGH SCHOOL AS COLLABORATION AND COHESION ARE NOT ONE OF OUR STRONG POINTS

On another important note special thanks from the Art4Ag team and Cotton Australia to Hollie Baillieu for revisiting her 2011 Young Farming Champion’s role to work with Wyong High School

and the winners are?

a Archibull Prize Awards

20 schools and lots of excited guests came together today at the home of the Royal Easter Show to find out who had won the Archibull Prize.

IMG_9826

There was a lot at stake including these superb hand painted trophies by Wendy Taylor

IMG_0007

Muirfield High School was pretty excited to find out they had won the best PowerPoint or Video section

Not only was there a cheque for $500 they got one of those very impressive one off original Archies too

a Muirfield High School

Equally excited was the team from Shoalhaven High School who took out best blog ( a tie with De La Salle College)

a Shoalhaven HS with teachers

Team Shoalhaven with their Young Farming Champion Stephanie Fowler

a Shoalhaven High School

Team Shoalhaven and their cow

a De La Salle College

De La Salle College got a big cheque and a trophy

IMG_0043

and reconnected with their Young Farming Champion Richie Quigley

a Model Farms High School team

Model Farms received an award of excellence for their artwork and their PowerPoint

IMG_9805

Model Farms Cow being admired by Young Farming Champion Bronwyn Roberts with  Ann Burbrook

IMG_0023

This is one visually stunning cow

a Caroline Chisholm College

The winner of the best cow was the team from Caroline Chisholm College seen here  admiring their trophy. The dairy industry is sooooo lucky to have these young people  telling their story through art .  Wow

Congratulations to Winmalee High School who won an Award of Excellence for their very clever cow “Singer” who is featured in the middle of the first photo.

IMG_9835

Some of the Cream of the Crop winners

IMG_0032

Sarah Leonardi-McGrath with some of the Tuggerah Lakes Secondary College Berkeley Vale Campus team who won a number of Cream of the Crop awards as well as an Award of Excellence for their blog

Sarah had some exciting news for the schools in the audience and I will share this with you shortly

IMG_9940

The lovely Sophia Wakeling who we are looking forward to working with in 2013

AND WHO TOOK HOME THE ARCHBULL PRIZE 

a James Ruse with trophy

We did says James Ruse Agricultural High School

a James Ruse with Richie Quigley and Wendy Taylor

James Ruse Agricultural High School students with the Artwork Judge Wendy Taylor and their Young Farming Champion Richie Quigley.

a Jodan Kerr

On behalf of Art4agriculture Jordan Kerr says thank you to our Guest of Honour Sara Leonardi-McGrath. More from Sara shortly so watch this space

To our judges – thank you so much this was a tough gig

Alison Fairleigh – over judge

Lisa Claessen – blogs

Ann Burbrook – Videos

Sophie Davidson –PowerPoints

and our very special art judge

Wendy Taylor

I will put a complete list of the Prize Winners on the web in the next few days

Congratulations to all the schools, teachers and students. You did yourselves proud and I salute you all

Next Gen tell Agricultures story in words and insights

The Archibull Prize 2012 entries are now in and for the last two weeks art judge Wendy Taylor and I have been touring the state to allow Wendy to see the art works up close and personal and meet the teachers and students who have put their heart and souls into their Archies over the past 12 weeks. Yes aren’t they superstars they pulled this off in just 12 weeks.!!!!

We still have three schools’ artwork to feature and will do so shortly as soon as Wendy gets a chance to get some down time and reacquaint herself with her gorgeous family

In the meantime just to show the Archibull Prize is no fluffy art competition our superstar students have produced some outstanding blogs in their efforts to win the 2012 Archibull Prize. These are now loaded on the web and currently being judged by our expert judges

The brief was to create a Weekly Journal with a minimum of 1 journal entry per week and include

  • 5 mandatory blog posts
  • Digital photographs recording significant events
    • such as the arrival of Archie and visit by Young Farming
      Champion with supporting text.
    • Digital photographs and or video footage showing students working in teams, with supporting text.
    • A profile of the importance of the food or fibre industry your students are studying.
    • Digital photographs and or video footage portraying the development of the big ideas through the drafting stages of the final creation of the Archibull, with supporting text.
    • Funny photos including the Archibull ‘posing’ in an exotic location at the school.
    • A collection of small paragraphs to support photographs included in the Journal.

Have a look their work its outstanding. Write some comments on their blogs.  See if you can pick a winner. Not easy is it?. Judges we feel your pain

Abbotsleigh College beef http://abbarchibull.posterous.com/

IMG_8555

Camden Haven High School wool http://stephenshilling.wordpress.com

IMG_8772

De La Salle College Caringbah cotton http://dlsarchi.blogspot.com.au/

b IMG_7823

Elizabeth Macarthur High School beef http://archibullemhs.wordpress.com/

IMG_9302

Gunnedah High School cotton http://gunnedahmeetsmilambaraay.blogspot.com.au/

Kids

Hills Adventist College wool http://missymoo2012.blogspot.com.au/

IMG_4588

James Ruse Agriculture High School cotton http://archibull.tumblr.com

IMG_7982

Macarthur Anglican School wool http://archibull4mas.wordpress.com/

a IMG_9180

Model Farms High School cotton http://cowsinjeans.blogspot.com.au/

IMG_8036

Muirfield High School beef http://tbonesadventures.blogspot.com

e IMG_7937

Shoalhaven High School beef http://shoalhavenhigharchibull2012.blogspot.com.au/

IMG_9405

Tuggerah Lakes Secondary College Berkeley Vale Campus Beef www.bvcarchibull2012.wordpress.com

BV 3

Winmalee High School cotton http://winmaleearchiebull.blogspot.com.au/

_Winmalle_Archibull25

Wyong High School cotton http://www.wyongarchi.netii.net/index.html

19 group shot team archi with horns

Caroline Chisholm College dairy http://cccarchibull2012.blogspot.com.au/

1 IMG_8418

Jamison High School dairy http://jamisonhighagriculture.blogspot.com.au

1 jamison IMG_8344

St Michael’s Catholic School NOTE PRIMARY SCHOOL beef http://kidblog.org/HarvestingSunshine-2/

b IMG_8128

Next Gen says Support our Aussie farmers now!

I have been rolling out agriculture awareness and interest generating programs in our primary and secondary schools for over 8 years. I have learnt a lot of things in that time.

Firstly the community does value its farmers they just know very little about them or what it takes to grow the food on their table or the fibre that keeps their families warm and the products they build their houses with for that matter. Secondly there is no-one more powerful to tell agriculture’s story than Gen F aka the next generation of food and fibre producers  

My blog today will show you just how powerful two way conversations with the people who buy the food and fibre our farmers produce can be. In particular students in schools, our next generation of consumers, decision and policy makers and maybe even the next Gen F.

This blog will share with you part of a speech given this week by Sophia Wakeling who has participated in the Archibull Prize for the last two years as part of her school team.

Sophia gave this speech as part of the Australia Day Speaking Contest where students are asked to pick a topic that is relevant to Australian society.  

Sophia’s mum Julia shared her speech with Young Farming Champion Kylie Stretton who popped into Sophia’s school recently. She said Sophia was inspired to write her speech as through her involvement with the Archibull project the students have met with some amazing young farmers and that she knew the issues she shared with the audience are very real for farmers and Australia.

I spoke with Sophia’s mum today who said she sent the speech to Kylie because she wanted to thank all the Young Farming Champions for teaching our youth to respect those that work so hard on the land to feed and clothe us! Julia said because Sophia is sharing her Archibull journey with their family they now all think about what they buy and how it affects Australian farmers. They always now buy brands and have even gone so far as to sign up with Farmers Direct so they can avoid the big supermarkets. I must admit I had a smile on my face when she told me they don’t support Woolworths anymore because they noticed the Woolworths logo was no longer on our list of supporting partners.     

Australian Agriculture- Valuing our Famers by Sophia Wakeling

Whilst you listen to my speech today, I hope and encourage you to think about this quote  from a young beef farmer from Queensland named Kylie Stretton who visited our school as part of the Archibull Prize. What Kylie had to say has really changed the way I thought about where my food comes from and my farmers. By sharing this with you I hope it has the same impact and if not I’m sure that by the end of my speech you will look at it in an entirely different way.

“Australia is very lucky that lots of us have never known extremely hard times or poverty, so we really take our food for granted. I think that supermarkets selling fresh food at cheap prices makes people value it less. And if they value our beautiful fresh food less and take it for granted, then they take for granted the people that produce it.”

Until last year, my 12 years of existence had never included stopping to consider where my food came from, or how it was produced. According to what the media had told me I believed that farmers rode around on tractors all day and lived on dry dusty land. Unfortunately, I also believed agriculture was an awful industry to work in or be involved with for a career.

But this all changed at a school assembly last year a new project called The Archibull Prize was introduced to my school. At first, I didn’t give it a second thought. At the time I thought I was too busy to help out with a farming project. But when my art teacher approached me and asked me to join the project, I reluctantly agreed. The Archibull Prize is a project developed by farmers and supported by industry. The project aims to debunk the stereotypes and change students (and teachers) opinions about the agriculture sector and encourages students to think about sustainability and where their food comes from.

Before we started the project we were required to fill out a survey that tested our knowledge of the agriculture industry. It was then that I realised how little I knew about where the food that I was eating (and buying) on a daily basis came from. Shockingly, I realised that what I thought I knew about the agricultural industry was very wrong. Embarrassingly, I also learnt that more than 40 % of students in year 10 thought cotton came from an animal and more than a quarter of younger students believed yoghurt and scrambled eggs came from plants.

As we progressed further and further into the project I began to realise just how valuable farmers and agriculture are not only to me, but to the entire world. I have learned that farmers are truly the backbone of Australia. Without farmers we would not be able to survive. Without farmers other industries would struggle to survive as many jobs depend on the agriculture industry.

An example of this is the fashion industry. Without cotton and wool farmers, clothes with natural fibres would no longer be able to be processed or made into new designs. This same scenario is reflected in almost every industry in every country in the world. Without farmers we would not have jobs, homes, food or clean water.

I think what farmers have done for us is incredible and they deserve an enormous amount of respect and gratitude for what they have done. So now that we have established the fact that YES farmers are important and that we need to value them and their products, I would like to share with you one way that you can start supporting our Aussie farmers.

There is a common saying that “farmers are price takers and not price makers”. This means that farmers don’t have a lot of control over what price is offered to them for the products they produce.

One of the major reasons that farmers are offered so little for their great products is because they are often pushed out of the market in favour of cheaper, lower quality products such as home brand. A great example of this is home-brand milk being sold for $1 a litre. While this may seem like a great, cheap deal to most consumers, milk being sold for so little is causing great harm to our farmers.

Because of the milk price wars many Australian farmers are only receiving 11 cents per litre for their milk. If this injustice continues to happen, Australia will not have any dairy farmers left. We will be forced to import milk from overseas.

I don’t want the future of Australia to be like this so please! I strongly urge you to support our farmers. If we do not stand up for our farmers and our country I am afraid that in the years to come we will lose what our ancestors fought so hard for: a clean, safe environment and good, healthy food. I believe that as the next generation, we the youth of Australia need to get up and start the change.

Change how you think about Aussie farmers.

Tell your friends and spread the word, and most importantly buy our Australian farmers products and support them.

Always remember every single one of us can make a difference so please do your little bit for our Australian farmers.

I hope that you have been inspired by my speech today.

I want to make a difference and I want you to help start the change with me, support our farmers not our our supermarket’s profits.

Be a-part of this change and see Australia transform.

Support our Aussie farmers now! 

IMG_5413

Sophia (centre) interviews Wool Young Farming Champion Sammi Townsend

Wow your speech certainly makes my heart sing Sophia thank you so much.

BTW a great example wouldn’t you say that you don’t have to make agriculture compulsory in schools to share its story. See previous blog post here. All we need is for more industries and supporting partners to invest in Art4Agriculture which uses art and multimedia to ensure learning about agriculture is exciting and fun