Hermidale reaps a tonne of learning with crop’s harvest

The tiny school with the big plan to harvest 170 tonnes of wheat has reached its goal but isn’t stopping there. Vivienne Jones reports.

Image: Harvesting knowledge: Students at Hermidale Public School chat to one of the school parents about how the harverster machine works.

From seed, to wheat, to flour, to pizza.

Ten students at the tiny school in the central west of the state have seen their crop come full circle in a future-farming project that has gone from strength to strength this year.

The Hermidale Future Farmers project finally reached its goal last month when its 85-hectare wheat crop was harvested and just a week later, they were watching their harvest turn into flour.

Principal Skye Dedman said the school could have never imagined the community interest in the project when they started in Term 1.

“You couldn’t predict the depth of knowledge the students were going to achieve when we started this,” she said.

“They have really taken ownership of the project and of their learning and you can see it coming through when they are talking to people about what they do at school.

“They are so proud of their efforts and so they should be.”

The group travelled two hours away to Dubbo recently with a tonne of wheat in tow after an invitation from Ben Furney Flour Mill.

“It was great to see the wheat being milled in a local mill and transformed into flour for us to use in this weekend’s cut-out party with pizza and bruschetta and pasta,” Mrs Dedman said.

“For the kids to see the whole process was really beneficial and they were excited to see it come out as 700 kilograms of flour.”

Harvest was a long-awaited day for not only the students, but also the staff and community members involved.

“We had about a week and a half of good, dry weather in the lead-up to harvest, so we were thrilled when one of our dads brought his whole harvest team to strip the crop,” Mrs Dedman said.

“There were two headers, two trucks and chaser bins and while the students couldn’t operate the machines, they enjoyed standing back and watching a couple of runs of the header.

“We then went to the grain receival site and they saw our grain being tested and then unloaded into the trucks.”

The innovative, cropping immersion project, which has been brewing in the school community for a few years, came to life at the beginning of the school year with the paddock being donated by a former student and local farmer.

“The kids have been really engaged in following the process from paddock to buyer and we will head to the port in Newcastle sometime in February to see our wheat being loaded for export,” Mrs Dedman said.

“The lovely thing about wheat is that it is a 10-month process.

“It has given us time to really engage in the scientific learning about the process, but also grow with the project as well.

“There has been a focus on the pre-learning, then to see it all happen and now we will go back into the paddock and put those learnings into practice with weed solutions and maintaining the moisture profile.

“The students’ work and learning doesn’t stop once the crop is harvested.

“It is a unique project, and we are seeing so much love and support from all over the country, including letters and messages from people who have seen the stories or heard about the project.

“We are really keen to go deeper into investigative projects and continue that learning into next year and beyond.”

The school has also been invited to visit Tanja Public School on the South Coast for a week next year as another excursion.

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