Schools deliver an auditory and visual blast

Yesterday afternoon I attended the most incredible event. The organisation, the style and the superb food  and innovative menu would have done Prince Harry proud

Barrack Heights Public School who are competing in the 2013 Archibull Prize held a launch party to celebrate the finishing of their artwork and the students and teachers involved


The launch was co-ordinated by Julie Debnam and class teacher extraordinaire Natalie Harris (above) the room was decorated in everything black and white to celebrate  Australia’s most popular breed of the dairy cow – the Holstein

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Now a COW on a surfboard is not something you see every day, but it’s part of the Barrack Heights Public School Archibull Club’s grand vision for their fibreglass cow, Brocco. I will let the art judge share with you after judging all the very clever elements of the Cow Art


The 25 students taking part in the Archibull Prize competition this year, decorating their Archie with paint and recyclable materials to showcase their theme, “looking after waterways”.

Their Archie ‘Brocco’ is now covered in colours, a map of Australia’s rivers and indigenous artwork.

Yesterday was a celebration of all things dairy including the menu created by Azarak Experimental Kitchen owner and head chef Shane Debnam


Those who have dined at Azarak  know we are always about surprises, and for the Archibull, we are surprises abound. We will be charging yoghurt with NO2, churning a milk sorbet with dry ice, smoking milk with hay, steeping milk in straw and souring it to make a soft curd, and wrapping beef in pastoral lucerne, and cooking it sous vide for six hours at 53’c. Like I said; Azarak is always about surprises. says Shane

Shane IMG_6601

Inspiration for the Archibull menu was drawn from the local urban and suburban environment. We will utilise localised foraging to enhance the menu items, paired with our unique brand of approaching ingredients in a scientific, and classical manner.

The best part about using dairy is the versatility of the core ingredient. Dairy encompasses milk, cheeses, yoghurts, sorbets, gelatos, and beef itself. We also want to showcase the local rural and urban environment, with sustainable foraging, pairing it with the best in handmade yoghurts, soft curd and sorbet.


Our five course degustation auditory and visual sensation





Cant wait to get permission to show the delight on the students faces to have the opportunity to participate in this experience that saw them create ice-cream through a haze of dry ice



Special thanks to Shane and Parmalat for providing the opportunity for all the students to have access to the perfect nutrient cocktail that is dairy

However I must admit the most rewarding part of the experience for me and the wonderful team behind Art4Agricuture was the feedback from the teachers, parents and students.

This is the best experience the school has ever participated in said headmistress Sarah Rudling

Ms Harris said it is great for the students to see a project come together over such a long period of time. “They really love the involvement and seeing it grow.”

Although the students have loved painting their cow, teacher Natalie Harris says they have been most excited when learning about their assigned industry, dairy.

“The kids love it because, one, they get to be involved in a huge art project with a lot of different aspects to it, but also because they’re involved in something they don’t know a lot about,” she says.

“Ninety per cent of it is working on the cow, but 10 per cent is looking at sustainable farming. I think in a way they’ve loved that part more.”

“Not a lot of our kids have been to farms, I think in the group there was about four that had been to a farm.

“For them to able to get some information about the farming industry . . . they have really enjoyed being able to find out where does milk come from, how they look after animals, what a farmer actually does.”

Ms Harris says many parents have told her that their kids have asked them to buy locally-produced milk rather than cartons from the major supermarket brands after their research into the Illawarra dairy industry.

The Archibull Club has also learnt about recycling and the impact rubbish can have on waterways, which Ms Harris says has led to students making a conscious effort to recycle and pick up rubbish at school.

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They reminded us all the well being of our planet is the responsibility of everyone


The Challenge – WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Last words from Natalie Harris

That was the most parents that have ever attended a school function.

Thanks again 🙂 I have just loved the whole project

Follow Barrack Heights Public School journey through their blog here

If you would like to check out Azarak Experimental Kitchen on Facebook, please follow the link here.   Don’t forget to like their page!

Water water everywhere. Just who are we kidding

This year we have been able to send Young Eco Champions as well as Young Farming Champions into schools as part of a Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry supported Archibull Prize

This has been particularly rewarding for me as I know just how much our farm has benefited from working with natural resource management professionals and it has given me great joy to be able to partner our Young Farming Champions and the next generation of consumers and decision and policy makers (school students) with these bright young minds.

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Clover Hill paired with Next Gen to look after the farm’s scarce natural resources

Whereas our Young Farming Champions have their individual food and fibre industries behind them our Young Eco Champions don’t have an umbrella organisation that supports them financially and/or provides them with the type of personal and professional development Art4Agriculture offers and it’s been mind-blowing for me to see how they have flourished under the Young Eco Champions program.

Going into schools the Young Eco Champions have discovered that the knowledge base of students about natural resource management varies widely from school to school from almost nothing to exceptional and seems dependent on the culture within the school with some primary schools in the Archibull Prize 2013 leading the way.

They have found in the main that urban schools have their heads around sustainability in the context of reducing personal carbon footprint through recycling, reduced waste etc. because that’s what is driven through a lot of local council initiatives and some of the students with a rural background understood weed management issues and why it is important to manage weeds however knowledge of what it takes to farm sustainably and wider catchment management issues where almost non-existent.

Last week I joined Young Eco Champion Megan Rowlatt who returned to one of her schools to conduct a bush regeneration workshop with the students.

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Young Eco Champion Megan Rowlatt and students attacking the evil asparagus fern 

I was recently reminded just how important it is for us all to have a wider knowledge of what is happening to our scarce natural resources beyond our front fences when I came across this article Where the world’s running out of water, in one map by Brad Plumer in the Washington Post

Brad asks the question

And with the global population soaring past 7 billion, this is one of the biggest questions the world is now facing. Can better conservation practices and new technology enable farmers to keep feeding the planet without depleting its most important water resources?

Its pretty scary to know that approximately 1.7 billion people rely on aquifers that are rapidly being depleted and would take thousands of years to refill, according to the study in the journal Nature.

The report, “Water balance of global aquifers revealed by groundwater footprint,” identifies aquifers in the U.S., Mexico, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, India and China as crisis zones where groundwater resources and/or groundwater-dependent ecosystems are under threat because the use of water vastly exceeds the rate at which aquifers are being refilled by rain.

The underground reservoir in north-western India, for instance, would need 54 times more rainfall to replenish the water that’s currently being used by farmers and the local population.

In the map below, the blue areas mark where rain can replenish the amount of water being used by humans. Orange or red areas indicate places where people draw out more for irrigation and drinking water than rain can refill.

The grey areas show the extent of the “groundwater footprint” by representing how much water people are drawing from the aquifers compared with how much water each holds.

Water map

When we know Australia

  • is the driest inhabited continent on earth, with the least amount of water in rivers, the lowest run-off and the smallest area of permanent wetlands of all the continents.
  • and one third of the continent produces almost no run-off at all and Australia’s rainfall and stream-flow are the most variable in the world.

And then you see the big picture problem the world is facing due to an ever increasing scarcity of our precious natural resources its very rewarding to be able to work with and share our Young Farming Champions and our Young Eco Champions and their knowledge diversity and expertise with our school students

Its also very rewarding to be able to provide the schools they visit with the amazing resources our food and  fibre industries are creating to show how farmers are doing their bit and striving to do it better and inspiring the next generation to look beyond their front door and get actively involved as well

Examples of some great industry resources can be found on our web page here

In particular

Target 100

Cotton Australia Education Kit

A Wool Growers Guide to Managing Streams and Creeks

Red meat and water use. Don’t be fooled by the hype

There are a number of misconceptions in the wider community that sadly are sometimes deliberately promoted by some with an agenda to discredit the livestock industry.

One of those is the red meat industry’s water footprint with outrageous figures often quoted of how much water is required to produce a kilogram of beef

These figures are very flawed because they take in the rain that falls on the pasture

The simple answer to this question is the pasture grows because the rain falls and if the cattle didn’t eat it, the pasture would break down and generate methane anyway. So cattle are a very efficient way of generating food from pasture that would just get wasted.

So let’s look at some background and what is happening on farm (source)

Is water a renewable or non-renewable re source?

The water cycle shows how rain recycles by running off into the sea, then being evaporated to form clouds that will eventually lead to precipitation that can fall on land. Within the cycle, water can be stored as ice, or underground in a water table.


If groundwater is pumped up from a water table, or surface water is taken from a lake, faster than it can be replaced by the natural water cycle, then its use is considered non-renewable.

However, if rainwater can be collected and used before it evaporates, then its use is considered renewable. The more rainwater can be used before it evaporates, the smaller the impact on the water cycle.

There are three main areas to be considered when examining water usage in the cattle and sheep industry:

In the paddock:

Australian cattle and sheep farmers are committed to continually improving their on-farm water efficiency. They do this by taking actions such as creating efficient watering points for livestock (for example, designated troughs for animals to drink from) and maintaining healthy soils and pastures to minimise run-off (and therefore loss of water) during rain.

Water used to raise Australian livestock is generally not diverted water meaning it primarily comes from dams and river systems rather than town water supplies, and cannot be used for other purposes, such as human consumption.


In the feedlot:

Like farms, water use on cattle feedlots primarily relates to water consumption by animals. However, water is also used for feed processing, washing cattle and managing effluent. To reduce water use, the grain-fed beef industry is investing in several initiatives – including reusing water, and minimising water used when processing cattle feed.

In processing:

In beef and lamb processing plants, water is mostly used to ensure food safety and hygiene during operations. The industry is making major investments to improve water efficiency, including reusing and recycling water

Sustainable and efficient use of water is a top priority for our nation, especially in farming – and Australia’s cattle and sheep farmers are leading the way.

Stock and Waterways (source)

Our waterways and riparian land are valuable asset for farmers and the wider community Riparian areas are often the most productive parts of some farms due to their deeper soils and retained moisture, and may provide good, green feed when other paddocks have dried off.


A riparian zone includes a waterway such as a stream or river and the land immediately either side of the stream. The above picture shows a well manage riparian zone

Unfortunately, they are also at risk of damage, particularly as a result of uncontrolled stock access. This damage can result in the loss of soil, land, stock, and water quality

Studies have shown that removing stock from waterways and riparian areas totally, or for controlled periods, can have a significant improvement on riparian health.

Increased vegetation cover will lead, over time, to a reduction in erosion, better water quality, valuable shelter belts and biodiversity.

This means healthier stock, more efficient use of nutrients and rainfall, and thicker, improved pasture cover and a great result for everyone along the river system.


Farmers install watering points like troughs to water their cattle when cattle no longer have access to the waterways

So lets look at what is happening on farm balance the needs of grazing cattle to produce healthy nutritious affordable red meat and people and the planet

Water efficiency in the paddock

Australia’s unpredictable rain patterns and extended periods of drought mean efficient water management is essential for the community and cattle and sheep farmers. Farmers rely heavily on water-efficient grazing practices to make the most of the water available.

Through grazing management strategies, farmers manage the frequency and intensity of grazing to make the best use of their pastures – balancing the needs of the grazing animal, the pasture and the environment.

As with humans, in on-farm livestock production, the single biggest use of water is for drinking by the animals. Water makes up 60%–70% of the body weight of cattle and sheep, and is essential for maintaining their physiological function.

Water is also an essential resource for establishing and maintaining healthy pastures for Australia’s cattle and sheep to graze.

Water saving initiatives on farm 

Cattle and sheep farmers do many things to influence the water balance in their grazing systems. Healthy soils and adequate nutrients are two of the basic elements of any successful grazing system. Healthy soils drive higher pasture productivity and benefit the environment, through more efficient use of water and nutrients in the paddock, and lower risk of run-off, erosion and deep drainage.

A comprehensive survey of the environmental practices of Australian cattle and sheep farmers in 2010 found that farmers are increasingly monitoring and managing their water use:

  • 55% of farmers had installed additional watering points to replace water for stock from natural watercourses, with 61% of Queensland producers installing water points.
  • 86% of farmers monitored the level of water tables on their properties.

Water saving initiatives in Feedlots

The grain-fed cattle sector employs several strategies to reduce water usage.

These include:

  • Reusing water in cattle wash-down facilities
  • Covering dams to reduce evaporation
  • Restricting water use for feed processing
  • Using neighbouring coal seam gas development water
  • Reusing effluent water for dust suppression
  • The industry is also researching other initiatives, such as treating effluent water


Reducing water consumption in the meat processing industry

Examples of positive strategies being adopted to reduce water consumption at processing facilities include:

  • Using flow meters to monitor water usage
  • Reusing water for cleaning yards and other applications
  • Recovering rich organic compounds and nutrients from treated wastewater and solid wastes, to be transformed into fertilisers and soil conditioners
  • Installing efficient and effective wastewater treatment processes

Water use: the full facts

As I mentioned earlier there are lots of misconceptions about the amount of water used on farms and getting the full picture requires detailed assessment of a wide range of factors.

So measuring the total environmental impact of water consumption – known as ‘water foot printing’ – is far more complicated than simply adding up the volume of water consumed from start to finish.

“You can’t make generalisations, because beef is produced in so many different ways.

“Life-cycle assessment, the scientific discipline, is about trying to look at environmental impacts in a holistic way, to avoid just pushing the problem upstream or downstream in the supply chain,

For example, treating and recycling water might increase energy use, or a water- and energy-intensive farm might be producing more food on a smaller parcel of land, which is important on our increasingly crowded planet. “Arable land is itself a scarce resource.

The answer lies in accurate measurements and successful compromise.

“If we’re going to give anybody any sort of useful information to take pressure off water resources, we need to be a bit more sophisticated than just making simplistic statements about broad product categories, like livestock.” Says Brad Ridoutt from CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Melbourne

Farmers do care about clean waterways and healthy landscapes just like the community.  Just like the community some are doing it better than others. Lets work together to stop the blame and encourage everyone to strive for a healthy planet.

Great resources used here:



You feed me and I thank you.

There is that old saying that says ‘Nobody on their death bed wished they had made more money’ and everyone would be very happy for somewhere on their gravestone to say ‘Made a Difference’

Each day I find there are more and more young people in agriculture who want to scream from the highest hill that they are proud of being part of the team and that feeds and clothes us

I recently received this email from a very committed young lady who wanted to enrol her city school in the Archibull Prize so they could use their art to share the story about the important role our farmers play

My name is Emma Williams, and I am in my final year at Loreto Kirrbilli.

Emma taking in the sun and scenery at every opportunity

Emma Williams a city girl who values the country and wants to tell its story

As a student living in the city during the term and country during the holidays I see both ‘values’ of my generation.

Essentially, before I leave Loreto (very soon) I would like to set the foundations, or even start a program that allowed girls from the city, who have little opportunity to experience firsthand and understand the value of our farmers that can only come from providing a direct connection between producers and consumers.

Mr Kleeman

Emma received 3rd place in the state wide Brock Rowe Senior Geography Competition for her project ‘To investigate the effects of mining and coal seam gas extraction on Strategic Agricultural Land essential for food production and injurious effects on rural towns and communities in the Liverpool Plains’

This is something I am very passionate about. I am a huge fan of your ‘Archibull’ program – but acknowledge that this year is well and truly underway – however, I feel I must act now if I want to start the journey and build this connection and understanding at Loreto, as I am only one of a few girls with a passion for the agriculture industry.

So basically, I am asking if you had an option, to partake in a ‘mini’ or ‘condensed’ or ‘revised’ Archibull program specifically for Loreto – I completely acknowledge that your resources and time are taken up with the current program that advises numerous schools and I would be willing to find a mentor/industry role model to participate –

I believe the idea of combining the ‘art’ and ‘agriculture’ and the idea of the ‘bull’ is a perfect fit for our extremely creative school.

Again, I completely appreciate your current program is underway and would appreciate if nothing else, your opinion or idea on how to create greater knowledge and mutual understanding and instil more respect in the consumer/ producer relationship.  Emma Williams

As coincidence would have it Emma was introduced to Art4Agriculture and the Archibull Prize after having been sent the link to Young Farming Champion Richie Quigley’s video ‘I grow cotton and you wear it’. Emma being the proactive young lady that she is contacted Richie via the Quigley Farms Facebook page to get his advice on university pathways into agriculture

In her words

‘It is absolutely beyond my wildest dreams to communicate with young farmers (of their nature) and have been so fortunate to be in brief contact with Richie Quigley – not having met him, but being mentored towards the most appropriate university degree for me next year – his input has been invaluable.’

As it turned out the teachers and the students at Loreto where very open to the idea of a ‘late start’ to the Archibull Prize program but in the end felt they could not do it justice in such a short space of time but they have put their names down for next year.

Emma has also built up a huge network of Agvocates on social media and sent congratulatory emails and tweets to many of the people she is seeing who are making a difference to the way people see farmers in Australia and inspiring her to do the same. So I asked Emma to share with me why as a ‘city’ girl she felt this way

Not surprisingly just like another Young Farming Champion Bronwyn Roberts, who is also inspiring next gen, Emma was inspired by her grandfather

This is Emma’s story ………………….

I have an awesome relationship with my grandparents who live on the family property in Tamworth, and I hope to be the 5th generation to farm there. My grandfather is my biggest influence.

Emma Williams and Eric Crowe

Emma with her grandfather Eric Rowe

Every holiday, with my mum and sister we travel to Tamworth, to immerse ourselves for a few weeks in the way of life I like to call ‘home’.

Emma checking the cattle at Sunset

Emma checking the cattle at sunset

To cut a long story short, my grandfather’s prominence in the cattle and stock and station industry, contacts I have made and lifestyle I have for so long desired but only observed have led me to the Agriculture career path I am hoping to embark on next year.

Never being allowed to do hard labour because I am the 'girl'

Never being allowed to do hard labour because I am the ‘girl’

This admittedly hasn’t been easy, and I still choose it ironically with so much desire yet so much doubt.

Most significantly the deterioration of my grandfather’s mental health is underpinning my decision . Still so so so alert, and with a work ethic like no other, his potential in the industry is still exponential, yet there seem so many barriers and red and green tape for him to surmount it has finally beaten him to the ground.

I now see a man, who has no faith in the potential of Agriculture in Australia, and compares the good ‘old days’ to the declining ‘current years’. This no doubt, is incidental, and with my ability to travel up more often next year, and put some youthful input into the business I hope I will be able to breathe some life back into this once proud man.

Perhaps the reality of the past few years in the industry Australia wide has created my biggest doubt. Living in the city where so few value their farmers and would have no idea where the clothes on their back came from and think that life lessons come in the form of wealth makes it difficult to stay passionate.

The demise of the Live Export industry, effects of the drought, and Government notion ‘out of sight out of mind’ have really affected me, not to mention my school work, no time for it. The more I read the more I cannot understand the lack of empathy and massive disconnect between the people who produce the food and the people who enjoy it

I have tried to educate myself on the issues, so that I can share the realities of what I have learnt with others, but to be honest they have no concept that anything beyond the city surrounds impacts on them, and if $1 milk means less expensive, then stuff the farmers.

It really is hard to comprehend the misinformation, and scare tactics that are being fed to cities like Sydney. I am in constant despair at the comments I hear every day and even more concerning is the complete lack of communication on the nightly news about the issues that really impact of on this great country.

Excitingly I am finding through social media networks people are starting to listen, and although people may think their influence is minor, it is those rural advocates’ Facebook pages, blogs, tweets, emails and comments that have opened my eyes to the great opportunity a life in agriculture can offer me. My desire is stronger than ever, to right these wrongs and become involved in an industry that deserves acknowledgment.

I am more than ready to start laying the foundations to the rest of my life, and can’t wait to be an influence on the younger generations, and follow in the footsteps of those forging a new and bright future for young people in agriculture …………

One can never overestimate the power of feedback like this from Emma.  Our Young Farming Champions have a closed Facebook page on which they share the highlights of their YFC journey and they all receive similar feedback to that Emma gave Richie.

Being a part of a successful project team is a very powerful way of encouraging young people and I have watched them all develop invaluable confidence and leadership skills and take other roles of responsibility within their own and the wider community.

On behalf of of the Young Farming Champions and rural agvocates everywhere I thank you Emma for sharing your story

Baa Baa Black Sheep have you any wool

Todays guest post is by 2011 Young Farming Champion Melissa Henry who is crazy about wool and her flock of sheep and living and working in rural and regional Australia 

This is Melissa’s story

I’m Melissa Henry from Boorowa in South West NSW.

I’m a Young Farming Champion representing the sheep and wool industry. I’m not from a farming background, I grew up in the Hawkesbury District of Western Sydney.


My ram “Mr Wright” – Grand Champion Ram Royal Canberra Show 2013

My first introduction to agriculture was at high school showing sheep and beef cattle and I loved it! Agriculture has opened more doors for me than I ever knew existed. I have been very fortunate to travel and look at the diversity of agriculture both in Australia and overseas. I’ve seen farming systems in Canada (Quebec and Alberta), South Africa and New Zealand. 

I completed a Bachelor of Animal Science (Hons) at the University of Western Sydney (Hawkesbury) and a Graduate Certificate in Agricultural Consulting at the University of New England.

At home I have my own flock of naturally coloured Corriedales which is very much a niche market. I established Quebon Coloured Sheep in 2004 which gave me the opportunity to learn first hand what it takes to be a farmer – even if it is at a small scale.



Quebon Coloured Sheep, Boorowa NSW

My fleeces are sold to hand-spinners and textile artists. My wool colours range from light to dark grey, fawn to chocolate. My ram and ewe lambs are sold to other breeders of coloured sheep, and the wether lambs are sold into the meat market.

Melissa Henry

I love my sheep!

I show my sheep as well, which is a great way of benchmarking the flock and to meet other breeders.  I was very excited to recently win the Grand Champion Ram in the Black and Coloured Sheep section at Canberra Royal Show . 

What I have learnt from having my own flock is:

  • You don’t need to own land to own livestock
  • There are so many people out there who are willing to help you learn – joining a breed or show association is a great starting point
  • No matter what size your flock is – the management requirements are the same

I wear another hat and that is Catchment Officer for the Lachlan Catchment Management Authority. My role is to deliver natural resource management projects, such as revegetation, waterway protection and farm planning to farmer and rural landholders in the Boorowa and Upper Lachlan region. I also work with community groups such as Landcare and the local fishing club to run local events and field days. The most rewarding part of the job is to work with farmers to achieve their production and sustainability goals by helping them along the way with matched federal and state funding. This funding assists with on-farm works such as fencing and tree planting as well as formal and in-formal training opportunities.


Best part of the job – Boorowa NSW

As a Young Farming Champion going into Sydney schools for the Archibull Prize and talking with others in the city community, a common question I am asked is “what is it like to like in a country town?”


Melissa with students from St Michael’s Catholic School in Baulkham Hills

I have found there are a lot of negative misconceptions in the city about what life in a rural community is like.

I love the open spaces, the quiet, the birds, seeing wildlife almost daily, recognising people when you walk down the street, watching the weather fronts as they move across the landscape.

I admire the values of country people: genuine, friendly, open, family focussed, dedicated, innovative, passionate about what they do and their communities.

I am inspired by the community spirit, particularly in times of extreme weather events such as floods and fire. Individuals pull together at the drop of a hat to help others in need, from moving stock to making sure that there is food in the fridge.

This year I am again joining the 2013 Wool Young Farming Champions and visiting  schools participating in the Archibull Prize

Melissa Henry and the 2013 Wool Young Farming Champions

Jo Newton, Bessie Blore, Melissa Henry, Adele Offley and Cassie Baile 

This year I am excited to have the opportunity to visit rural schools in both my hometown of Boorowa as well as Junee. You can visit the Boorowa Central School blog here

Junee High School

Meeting with the Junee High Art4Agriculture Archibull team – what a fantastic group that are so keen to share the positive story of sheep and wool.

Our Australian sheep and wool producers hold a special place in my heart. They care for some of our most diverse farming landscapes and our scarce natural resources. They also underpin our wonderful rural communities like Boorowa. It is an honour to be able to utilize my project management and communication skills to support sustainability within rural businesses and ensure our sheep and wool producers have a profitable future.



Melissa and her oldest ewe ‘Baabra’

I am also very grateful for the opportunity to live in a location where I can fulfil my passion – owning a small sheep stud. I am also grateful for the lifestyle that I am now living. I have previously blogged about why I love Life in a country town here

And this winter when you are putting your scarf on, think of me and my girls.

Melissa’s website is

You can follow Melissa @baalissa on Twitter.

The real cost of prices are down down down

Food Waste

As part of their quest to win the Archibull Prize we invite the participating the schools to  write a blog which documents the journey of their artwork and their learnings. To engage the  whole school community including parents, staff and students within their school, as well as feeder schools and community partners we ask that their blog be a living document and the blog posts are published regularly for public viewing.

Have a look at a small sample of this years student’s blog. I guarantee you will be amazed and very proud of next gen

Secondary Schools where the big ideas are flowing

Model Farms High School

Trangie Central School

Tuggerah Lake Secondary College Berkley Vale Campus

Gunnedah High School

Shoalhaven High School

Menai High School

Archie Action in our Primary Schools

St Brigid’s Catholic Parrish Primary School

Bowral Public School

Avoca Public School

Barrack Heights Public School

We ask the students to explore some challenges to feeding and clothing the world and over the next few weeks I am going to share my thoughts ( and those of other fellow Australian bloggers and farmers ) on some of the issues we raise.

Today lets look at the too often overlooked wicked problem that is food waste.


To challenge the students we ask the students to investigate waste and why we waste so much. Scaringly Australians waste 4 million tonnes of food and organisations like Foodbank redistribute some of this waste to people in need.
The students learn about and understand how food wastage occurs including  poor purchasing choices and then we ask these bright minds to develop strategies to reduce waste.

Blogger Susie Green who blogs at Farming Unlocked recently penned this excellent and highly thought provoking post titled  The Real Cost of Perfect Food

As Susie reveals

A significant degree of waste is also occurring as a by-product of our seemingly insatiable demand for fresh produce that looks perfect, has consistent eating quality and is of perfect size and colour. Much of this waste is not even taken into account in the quoted 4 million tonnes worth of waste mentioned above.

Fresh produce that does not meet a required specification is often discarded before it even leaves the field. Perfectly good food is rejected for a minor blemish or for being the wrong colour, size or shape.


Further, growers are having to go to extraordinary lengths to produce this “perfect” produce; investing heavily in complex growing systems and fighting a battle they can never win completely to iron out the “imperfections” of nature. It takes a lot of effort and costs a lot of money to grow the perfect piece of fruit and vegetable. It takes even more effort to grow an entire field of exactly the same perfect fruit or vegetables.

Susie then shares the story of how Australia’s apple growers are tackling this challenge.


Susie’s blog has created quite a bit of discussion including these comments from fellow blogger Ann Britton

Ann Britton 1

Link to story Blemished fruit dumped despite perfect eating quality

Ann Britton

Link to story Crops up in Flames

and Susie reflects on the challenges she faces on a personal level ( she is not alone is she?)

The challenge lies in how we can collectively make a change. I face a constant uphill battle with my own children (only 4 and 6 yo), who I struggle to get to eat a blemished piece of fruit. I haven’t brought them up that way – it is just somehow a natural trait to look for something that looks nicer. As long as they have that choice, they will pick the better looking fruit every time. Perhaps it does need a very clever marketing strategy. I just hope we can position ourselves to make the change before we reach a situation that is forecast in the following article.

What does it say about us as nation that we have the luxury of demanding perfect food at rock bottom prices and believing it is a birth right when 870 million people, or one in eight people in the world, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012. Almost all the hungry people, 852 million, live in developing countries, representing 15 percent of the population of developing counties.

Susie’s blog has helped kick-start the discussion and is generating great conversations. Will the world talk or act?. That is the decision of every single person  who says they care


Great articles here

Australia needs a Food Waste Strategy

The Disease Called Food Waste

It stinks, but food waste is feeding our hunger for energy


Say yes to Buy Australian Grown

The pointy end of the Archibull Prize program is ready to begin

All the schools now have their cows and their paints and their industry resources

They have done their entry survey

Soon they will know who their Young Farming Champions and Eco Champions are

Now it is time to share with them what our call to action is and what we hope they will understand and will need to make wise choices about as consumers and decision and policy makers

Did you know this?


And that’s just the cows!

Imagine the amount of land!

The people!

The infrastructure!

Supporting business!

The technology!

It takes to get your dairy products from cow to consumer!

These are only a handful of questions and they are only for one area of agriculture.

We all have to eat and that alone means that agriculture is not only important but vital.

Every Australian wants

  • Affordable
  • Safe
  • healthy food
  • food produced in an environmentally friendly way.

Every Australian wants their food produced by people who care

A passion to link consumers with producers … to promote public understanding of farming, and the interconnectedness of health and nutrition and the agricultural sector … is the driving force behind Art4Agriculture.

The quantities of grain, pork, meet and cotton to feed and clothe Sydney are staggering and they only hint at the full story.

It’s staggering enough to discover you need 8,000 cows to produce the ice-cream Sydney consumes every day


Sydney consumes 300,000 kg of pork enough for 3 rashers of bacon per person per day


Enough grain to produce 32,000 loaves of bread

Sydney consumes more than 300,000 kgs of pork

Enough hens to lay 800,000 eggs

Sydney needs enough hens to lay more than 800,00 eggs

Sydney consumes over 600,00 kg of beef and lamb


We could make 1 million pairs of jeans with the amount of cotton Sydney uses every day


Yet whilst Australian farmers look after more than 60% of Australia’s landscape

Australian Farms care for over 60% of Australia's landscape

and produce 93% of the food we eat

Intro to the Program What we want you to know and think about

Believe it or not only 6% of our land is suitable for planting the food we eat.

Only 6% of Australia is suitable for food production

What outcomes does Art4Agriculture hope to achieve

We see success as an exciting, dynamic, innovative and profitable agri-food sector supported by all Australians

We see success as an appreciation of Australian farmers producing healthy, affordable, environmentally friendly and safe food translate into consumers taking that little bit of extra time required to seek out Aussie produce

We see success as young people getting excited about careers in Agriculture

How can you help make a difference?. Check out this blog from Susie Green at Farming Unlocked 

Archie Has Arrived

The Archibull Prize uses art and multimedia and young farming champions to promote Australian farmers as professional, committed and caring and agriculture as an exciting and dynamic and innovative career.

The Young Farming Champions (YFC) program brings young farmers into schools as part of the Archibull Prize program to introduce the next generation of consumers to sustainable food production and the diverse array of careers in the agriculture sector.

The program encourages teamwork, creativity and exploration through projects focused on the food and fibre industries.

Guided by YFC, students use a blank fibreglass cow to create an artwork showcasing their research, including the farmers who produce it, and also create a weekly blog documenting their progress and an online video.

As of today the schools are going live with their blogs and they will be sharing their journey with you.

First cab of the rank meet Trangie Central School who is being supported by Cotton Australia and the Macquarie 2100 program

Its the little things that make a person big on the inside.

Today’s guest blog post comes from Young Eco Champion Erin Lake. This is her story….

G’day- my name is Erin and I lead a pretty lucky life.


I have had a lot of great opportunities so far- some being not so obvious as others, but I reckon it’s the little things that make a person big on the inside.

My attitude to life is always do things with a smile- it makes you enjoy every moment and helps people around you enjoy those moments too. Plus, its amazing what kinds of opportunities having an open mind can bring!

So my story begins out in Western NSW- where I was born. In a little town called Jerilderie, famous for Ned Kelly’s ‘Jerilderie Letter’.


Jerilderie is full of wonderful people with a great ‘country spirit’. It’s a town, like many others in Australia, where people who go up the street to buy the paper, end up spending hours there in front of the newsagency talking to people about things going on around them.


I didn’t spend much time living in Jerilderie, but my Nan has lived there since 1974, so we would always be back there in the holidays, and Nan would take us up the street to talk to Bruce the butcher, and the newsagent, and the chemist… So I guess this cemented my philosophy of being happy to chat to anyone from any walk of life- everyone has a story to tell.


My Nan has been a pivotal part in my appreciation of nature and the bush. She would always stop and pick up any litter she came across, and held quite romanticised views of the bush and how important it is to protect our native plants and animals.


Each member of the family has a tree planted at Nan’s house, and mine is a Gum tree- planted on the day I was born. It’s now taller than the house and Nan says g’day to it whenever she feels like sending her love to me.


We moved around a bit when we were young, to Merimbula and then Cooma in the Snowy Mountains where I grew an appreciation of the beautiful snow country.


We finally ended up in Gerringong, on the sunny South Coast of NSW. Here my brother and I spent a lot of time at the beach surfing and bodyboarding, we went fishing, snorkelling and were pretty much always outdoors.




My brother and I standing in a field of canola on our way to visit Nan

My family were so proud when I became the first person in my family to get a degree. And when I got two degrees with an honours in environmental science they thought I was just showing off…


But really I just love learning, and I particularly love learning about the natural world. There are so many amazing things out there in nature, and you don’t have to look very far from your backyard to find tiny little miracles.


And this is Mick- he has been my partner and best mate for 10 years now, he has been the rock behind my journey. He loves nature just as much as me and so we do lots of things like bushwalking and canoeing together and really love it.


Uni was a great time for me, but during my course I felt that I wanted to get more practical ‘hands on’ experience, so had a look through the TAFE NSW website and saw the Conservation and Land Management course, and I thought I’d give it a go. It was here I found my passion for bush regeneration and learnt about managing the land sustainably.


It had a lot to do with the amazing teachers of the course – Gerard and Kelly, who I ended up working for professionally for a few years while I finished Uni. Working in the bush is some of the best work you can do in my opinion- you are always learning, outside all day in some of the most amazing places that no one ever goes, and you usually work with some pretty awesome people along the way… people who share your passion and can chat all day about the world while you give it a helping hand J


In the last year of Uni I did an honours thesis which looked at the way landholders in my region were managing the rainforest on their properties and what it meant to them to live in these areas of high conservation value.

One of the landholders was a dairy farmer, and following my thesis she invited me to come back and do some work for her on the farm. This work lead to a great working relationship with the community, and for the next few years we undertook a lot of natural resource management projects including restoration work, community engagement and working with young people- introducing them to the NRM industry.



I also worked for a while in Local Government as a Bush Regeneration team leader managing some of our areas reserves and natural areas.


I learnt a lot during these years on ground, but I soon felt like I wanted to know more about how environmental issues are managed higher up the chain. I wanted to know how decisions are made that effects change on the ground. so I applied for the graduate program in the federal department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (SEWPaC), and once i got the job we moved to Canberra to see what the public service is all about.


My graduate year was a lot of fun and I learnt a lot- i spent some time working in water policy when the Murray Darling Basin Plan was being developed, and then I worked in the Biodiversity Fund team managing NRM grants. A definite highlight for me was travelling out to Broken Hill on a field trip, where we visited Lake Mungo National Park and got to hear stories from the traditional owners out there.

In my final work placement i was lucky enough to work in the Australian National Botanic Gardens as a member of the Bush Blitz team- you can read about that here.

I am now a part of the team that is managing the National Wildlife Corridors Plan, a national strategy to support the development of continent scale wildlife corridors across Australia. It’s really exciting work and I am doing what I came here to do- learn about the processes that shape biodiversity management in Australia.

My work has taken me to lots of amazing places and I have met so many interesting people- I love working in the natural resource management industry and am excited to see where it might take me next!


See more of Erin’s story by watching her Young Eco Champion’s video here

You can see some of the wonderful work she is doing in the community here

The Fountaindale Dam Project
Dune Day

2013 Archibull Prize Schools announced

Art4Agriculture and our supporting partners are thrilled to announce that 44 schools across three states are participating in the Archibull Prize in 2013.


This year Art4agriculture has been lucky enough to get significant support from the Australian government to expand the Archibull Prize and offer a primary and secondary school complementary program stream in Natural Resource Management (NRM). This gives us a wonderful opportunity to partner selected primary schools with both our young farming champions and our young eco champions.

The funding provides for a pilot program, with a successful outcome underpinning the chance to roll out the NRM stream nationally.

To integrate the pilot into the program, we have divided the 2013 Archibull Prize into 2 streams ( Program A and Program B)

Program A ( added NRM focus )

Students are asked to consider what it takes to sustainably feed and clothe their community for a day. They will explore a food or fibre industry with the support of both a Young Farming Champion and Young Eco Champion with a stronger focus on NRM.
This will require the students to also consider how farmers work with natural resource management professionals to protect Australia’s scare natural resources and share this as part of their learning.

You can click here to see this wonderful Prezi that tells you what the Archibull Prize is and how it works

Archibull Prize Prezi

Cash Prizes on offer

  • Best blog $500
  • Best Video or PowerPoint $500
  • Best Cow $500
  • Overall winning school (Program A) The Archibull Prize $1000

Program B ( traditional program)
The secondary schools undertaking Program B will be participating in the traditional Archibull Prize experience, where students are asked to consider what it takes to sustainably feed and clothe their community for a day. They will explore a food or fibre industry with the support of a Young Farming Champion.

Cash Prizes on offer

  • Best blog $500
  • Best Video or PowerPoint $500
  • Best Cow $500
  • Overall winning school (Program B) The Archibull Prize $1000

The winners of program A and program B will then be eligible for an additional $1,000 prize money as judges determine which is the Overall Winning School for the 2013 Archibull Prize.

Our 2013 schools are

· Arndell Anglican College

· Avoca Public School

· Barrack Heights Public School

· Bega Valley Primary School

· Boorowa Central School

· Boorowa Central School

· Bowral Public School

· Caroline Chisholm College

· Chifley Primary School

· Clermont State High School

· Corpus Christi Catholic High School

· Cranebrook High School

· De La Salle College Caringbah

· Eden Marine High School

· Eden Marine Primary School

· Elizabeth Macarthur High School

· Gunnedah High School

· Gwynneville Public School

· James Ruse Agricultural High School

· Jamison High School

· Jamison High School

· Junee High School

· Junee Public School

· Kiama Public School

· Matraville Sports High School

· Menai High School

· Model Farms High School

· Northlakes High School

· Nowra East Public School

· Nowra High School

· Rockhampton Grammar School

· Rockhampton State High School

· Shoalhaven Anglican School

· Shoalhaven High School

· St Bridgets Public School

· Theodore Primary School

· Theodore State School

· Trangie Central School

· Tuggerah Lakes Secondary College Berkeley Vale Campus

· Turramurra High School

· Vincentia High School

· Vincentia Public School

· Winmalee High School

· Yeppoon State High School

Let the games begin