Creating a link between urban and rural communities and showcasing farming to the next generation are just two reasons why Terence and Suzanne Brocx and William and Robyn Hori host school visits.
Suzanne feels the connection many city families once had to relatives in the country has largely been lost. The Brocxs and Horis say joining DairyNZ’s Find a Farmer service has been their attempt to re-establish that connection.
Twice every year, the joint owners of Puketi Farms-Ohaeawai, just west of the Bay of Islands, host two school visits to their autumn calving farm. Suzanne has been pleased with the results, saying students and accompanying parents and teachers leave knowing at least one new thing about dairy farming and rural life.
“Tamariki learn about milking, calf rearing, what we feed our cows, where our milk goes and what food it goes into, as well as about effluent management and how we look after our waterways,” says Suzanne.
“While it does cost our business to host children, it’s a great opportunity to showcase farming and rural life. We see ourselves as role models for dairy farming, not only as a career, but a way of life. At the same time, we’re giving children an appreciation of where their milk comes from.”
To help educate the children on various aspects of farm life, the Puketi Farms team sets up four themed stations for the children to visit in groups. One of these stations gives children the chance to make their own butter by shaking cream, and then enjoy it spread on bread. The hosts also set up a station where children can learn to read ingredient labels and choose everyday items that do and don’t contain dairy products.
Puketi Farms has been hosting school visits as part of DairyNZ’s in-school programme since 2014. The programme, developed by DairyNZ and education specialists School Kit, is aligned with the New Zealand curriculum and covers Levels 1-11, using dairying as a context for learning. It aims to help kids understand where milk comes from and what a varied, interesting, and significant sector dairying is, presenting it as a career option.
Schools that have been using DairyNZ’s education programme in the classroom can then register for Find a Farmer to link with a local farm. A field trip is a popular learning experience that reinforces the classroom work.