A shroud of secrecy has been...
Kids to Farms program – MP calls for extension to funding so popular school excursions can continue
Last year a fund that helped get kids out to farms so they could see what happens on the land, was launched by the Federal Government, with schools receiving up to $1500 towards the cost of an excursion.
Under the fund that began last year, the money went towards the costs of an excursion to a local farm, with a program that fits with the curriculum.
Federal MP for Macquarie Susan Templeman and Bilpin farmer Aaron Brocken at Harvest Farms
The problem, according to Macquarie MP Susan Templeman, is “since the Kids to Farms program began, the pandemic has consistently interrupted children’s schooling, and the last thing teachers had the energy for is planning excursions that probably wouldn’t have taken place”.
So Ms Templeman has asked the Federal Government to extend a program that funds schools visiting local farms, so more students and farms can benefit.
“It’s a great idea to encourage schools to do excursions to farms, and our local farmers are keen to take part,” Ms Templeman said.
“Everyone is hoping for a more normal year, but this program runs out in the middle of the year, so doesn’t give schools much time.
“I’ve written to the Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia, David Littleproud, asking that he extends the deadline so schools have at least the rest of the year to plan their excursions.
“These excursions are not only beneficial to a child’s education, but to their well-being. Extending this deadline would mean more schools can take the classroom out on the road after such a disruptive couple of years.”
Aaron Brocken of Harvest Farms in Bilpin is one local destination that is taking bookings, so local school children can find out about where their food comes from.
“We’ve been farming here for about six years. We took a piece of land that hasn’t been farmed in many years and we’re transforming it into a thriving farm to provide local produce to residents and businesses around the area,” Mr Brocken explained.
“We grow about 30 different varieties of fruit and vegetables here and sell through local outlets like Lyttleton Co-op in Lawson, Katoomba Co-op, and through our own community farming membership.
“We also supply restaurants like Ates in Blackheath and Sangoma in Bowen Mountain with fresh local produce.
“For me, this is a chance to help children learn about sustainability and how food is produced, and even just what it looks like when it grows.”
Kurrajong North Public School is one Hawkesbury school taking advantage of the program, and Ms Templeman said an extension would allow more schools to visit locations like Harvest Farms.
“School kids coming from further afield could visit a couple of locations, stopping to do things like eat lunch, which also gives our local small businesses a welcome mid-week boost,” Ms Templeman said.
“I really urge the government to extend the deadline for this program for the benefit of our school children and our family-owned farms.”
Harvest Trails and Markets, a not-for-profit organisation aimed at bringing consumers and farmers closer together, is also getting behind the project.
For more information about Harvest Farms, visit https://harvestfarms.com.au/.
For more information on Harvest Trails and Markets, see https://www.harvesttrailsandmarkets.com.au/
The Kids to Farm program is a joint initiative of NSW Farmers and the Federal Government.
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