From planting and harvesting to packaging and distribution – a new Victorian horticulture program is teaching local children the tricks of the agricultural trade early.
Werribee horticulture business Velisha Farms has started offering primary schools across Victoria the opportunity to participate in a hands-on program that seeks to inspire young students to pursue careers in agriculture.
The education initiative funded by the Victorians Farmers Federation (VFF) aims to teach young children about sustainability, how their produce is grown, and the extensive job opportunities within the agricultural industry.
“The sector has evolved, it’s not people’s perception of what farm work might be, it’s a sophisticated business now,” Head of Education at Velisha Farms Mark Pullin said. “It’s more than just a visit, it’s an education program.”
The hands-on excursion immerses students in a living classroom experience where they engage in educational games and interact with the surrounding horticultural environment.
The children learn about the process of planting, growing, harvesting, picking, packaging, and distributing fresh produce.
“Our students toured the facility, entered the cool rooms, weighed veggies, catalogued the crop…and engaged in a number of rotations that gave scope about the sorts of produce farmed in the area” Sarah Cornish, teacher at School of the Good Shepherd, Gladstone Park, said.
“Sustainability is an emerging cornerstone value at our school, so it was an extraordinary experience for students to not only understand the how and why farms like Velisha operate but also to ponder questions like “are there more sustainable practices farms and supermarkets alike could be investing in.”
“We are hoping to inspire them to eat more fresh vegetables, ask different questions about food production and supply chains. But I think what is most exciting is how we get to give tangible knowledge about careers in horticulture to groups of students. We want to teach kids about how veg grows but also how they can grow within our industry,” Managing Director of Velisha Farms Catherine Velisha added.
The project is supported by the Government’s Educating Kids About Agriculture, a program under the Liberal and Nationals Government’s Our Plan to Showcase Agriculture: Our Heritage Our Future scheme, which aims to boost career interest within the sector.