Bringing country to the city at Strathfield South High School
Students at an inner west Sydney high school are learning all about agriculture. Ben Worsley reports.
07 December 2023
Talk to the students at Strathfield South High School and they will admit they never expected to see a chicken pen and a greenhouse on their grounds.
But agricultural studies are booming at the inner west school.
Namgay Dolkar is among those happily learning ag for the first time.
“As a recent student to Australia, I never thought I would get the opportunity to learn about animal husbandry,” she said.
“I used to be scared of animals and now I feel connection to my new school and the animals I am helping raise at school.”
Agriculture was only introduced at Strathfield South High this year, with 25 students giving it a go.
The word has spread – 79 have signed up for 2024.
Adam Sharp is one of the teachers heading up the program.
“Many students across urban Sydney are disconnected from farming and the agriculture subject gives them the privilege to reflect on the efforts, challenges and successes in farm management,” he said.
The success of the program is music to the ears of Duncan Kendall, the Head of Education at the Royal Agricultural Society (RAS).
“It’s an indisputable fact that today’s youth have a disconnect with agriculture and a limited understanding of where their food comes from,” he said.
“Agricultural studies highlight to young people the diverse and dynamic pathways that may inspire them to consider a career in the industry.”
The RAS recently hosted the Strathfield South High students at a farm day at the Sydney Showgrounds.
Cows were milked, cheese was made and lessons were held in horticulture, bush tucker, cotton growing and animal husbandry.
Student Owais Qutub said it helped bring many of the concepts he’s learning to life.
“Agriculture is such a fun subject,” he said.
“I am definitely keen to study agriculture as an HSC subject and I am very interested in studying agricultural engineering at university as I am very intrigued with the technology innovation.”
He is in luck.
Next year Strathfield South High will introduce the I-Farm - a fully computerised, outdoor farm research station that features eight automated garden beds, allowing students to compare the impact of different soil types, irrigation levels, fertilisers and micro-climates on crop growth.
It also has its own weather station and is powered by wind and solar energy.
Adam Sharp says this is just the beginning.
“We feel incredibly rewarded as we empower students with knowledge and skills that foster a deep appreciation for sustainable Agriculture.”