Last week, GrainGrowers’ CEO, Dr Michael Southan, spoke to more than 20 students from Years 7 to 11 at St Raphael’s Catholic School in Cowra NSW about Australian grain.
The students are studying grain as part of the Art 4 Agriculture’s 2017 Archibull challenge. Thirty schools across New South Wales, Queensland and the ACT are participating this year in the competition, now in its sixth year. The aim is to provide a fun and engaging way of connecting communities, and particularly young people, with the people who produce their food and fibre.
Dr Southan talked to the students about the factors that are important in growing high quality grain to produce the foods Australians love to eat such as bread, biscuits, cakes and pasta. He discussed the importance of including grain in the daily diet for digestive health and to supply a range of important nutrients and vitamins.
He conducted an experiment to show the students the properties of starch and gluten and involved the students in working with flour, producing a dough and learning about the differences between bread and biscuit flours and the diverse uses for wheat.
He also took questions from the floor. One student said she was interested in agriculture as a career and asked about jobs apart from farming. Dr Southan has a PhD in Agriculture and 20 years’ experience as a researcher in grain quality and grain-food processing. He spoke of his love of both research and farming - his family operates a mixed farm in the Cowra area growing livestock, crops and hazelnuts. He challenged the students to help educate their city counterparts about how important agriculture is and how reliant the nation is on it, not just for food but for clothing, and even power (ethanol), too.
The students will post coverage of their activities on a blog site they are constructing as part of the project. Later this year they will tour the Cowra district to visit working grain farms and grain handling facilities.
In addition, the school has taken delivery of a large fibreglass cow which the students will decorate with the supervision of the school’s art department.
The school (both secondary and primary) will be in the running for a range of prizes including Best Cow ($500), Best Blog ($500), Best Animation/Infographic ($500), Champion Archibull ($1000) and National Archibull.
More information: www.archibullprize.com.au; http://www.art4agriculture.com.au/