Introducing teachers Natalie Gherardin and Kara Lang from Naracoorte South Primary School in the Limestone Coast of South Australia. They both teach children from 5 – 7 years of age. Their story is Number 41 in my series of 52 farming blogs in 52 weeks to celebrate the Australian Year of the Farmer.
As a wonderful aside to this story, Natalie Gherardin has just been awarded the 2012 Junior Primary INSPIRATIONAL Teacher of the Year. We congratulate Nat and having read her story, we agree that she is truly an inspiration!
My teaching partner Kara and I are both from farming backgrounds. I grew up on a grain, sheep and cattle property whilst Kara grew up on a piggery. We both have a love of the country and an understanding of how important farmers are within the community.
We began teaching together in the farming community of Naracoorte in South Australia four years ago. Naracoorte provides an abundance of farming opportunities with grain, sheep, cattle, grapes, potatoes, carrots and dairy farms all in the area. We assumed that being a rural school, surrounded by farming enterprises, that our children would have an understanding of the farming industry and would know where food came from.
We were astounded one day to hear one of our five year old children ask “Why do the people who make apples put the seeds inside them?” With a little more questioning we discovered that this child wasn’t alone in their misunderstandings of how food is grown and distributed.
We decided upon a quest to inform our children on the purpose of farming and to provide them with the opportunity to grow and produce their own food.
This began the start of our school Agri/Environment centre, built with the assistance of our wonderful parent and school community. The centre now holds 15 hens and a rooster called ‘Kip’ and the children collect and sell the eggs daily to our community. We incubate the eggs to hatch chickens which are also sold to the community.
The children also tend to a worm farm and look after the vegetable gardens. The children are involved in seed collection and propagation. We also planted fruit trees – and yes, one is an apple tree!
We assist the children to use the vegetables that they grow to produce meals. We make tomato chutney with our tomatoes which the children sell to our school community. The children also sell any abundant vegetables that they produce. They assist with fertilising the gardens (provided by our chooks and worms) and are excellent spreaders of mulch and even horse manure!
The whole school is involved in collecting food waste for the chooks and compost. As you can imagine with nine classes providing scraps we have very content chooks!!
The children tend to their vegetables and chooks twice a day and it is a much loved part of their school day and an essential part of their learning. We are endeavouring to pass on our love of the outdoors and to develop their interest in becoming farmers of the future.
Recently the children enjoyed making scarecrows for the garden to keep away the birds from our produce. This was a lot of fun with most of the stuffing making it into the correct places!! The children named the scarecrows and so ‘Spike,’ ‘Rosie’ and ‘Tom’ are now a colourful addition to our vegetable patch. Special thanks to George’s Grandpa, Deano and Mum Belle Baker for helping us to achieve this.
We recently visited two farms within our district to help our children to understand the different types of farming enterprises in our region.
The first farm we visited provided the children with the opportunity to see sheep being shorn, goats, pigs and the children’s favourite – ten week old kelpie pups!
The second farm we visited was a dairy farm where the children witnessed cows being milked, calves being fed and discovered first-hand how butter is made. All fabulous learning opportunities for the children.
And the fun continues….
This term we are going to try our hand at watermelon and potato growing. We researched and found these great ideas for growing potatoes in a ‘roll’ and ‘square’ watermelons. Looks like a lot of fun and we know that the way to hook kids in to learning is to make it fun! Fingers crossed for some great produce too.
Where to from here…
Our plan for the future is to continue to develop our children’s’ thirst for the agricultural industry through expanding our Agri/Environment centre thus creating more opportunities for learning. Our goals include:
* Growing and selling seedlings and produce at the local Farmers market.
* Expanding our garden area to include native flowers and selling the flowers to the community.
* Teaching the children how to use the internet to research and gain knowledge on farming techniques – in particular gardening and poultry production.
* Continuing to plan excursions to the many different farms that we have in our district.
* Strengthening our partnerships with local farmers and encouraging them to take an active part in our school agricultural enterprise.
Video messages from our children
FOOTNOTE: The Naracoorte South Primary School is transitioning to a new uniform hence the children in both Navy and Green uniforms.
If you have any questions for Natalie or Kara you can email them on email@example.com
Fantastic job girls! What an absolutely wonderful initiative to teach the next generation about where their food and fibre comes from.
Just a pity that it can’t be part of the national curriculum. It would be a good thing for more city people to have a sound understanding of agriculture, starting with the kids!
Inspirational, what a great job they are doing. Thanks for sharing this story.