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Farm My School

We cultivate dynamic school farms to create thriving neighbourhood hubs for learning, sharing, connecting & feeding local communities.

Photo of James McLennan
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Torquay P-6 College

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Government

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

Kinsfolk Farm- New farmer incubator and mentoring Grassroots Sustainability- Developing sustainability and local food related curriculum resources for participating schools Ben Shaw Permaculture- Farm and school yard design based on permaculture principles Beam 17- Community engagement Little Sister- Media and storytelling Department of Education Torquay p-6 College- pilot school

Website of Legally Registered Entity

https://www.torquaycollege.vic.edu.au/

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 1-3 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Torquay, Victoria

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Australia

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

G21 - The G21 region has a population of around 330,000 people and covers 8972 km2. It is home to the 2nd largest city in Victoria, Geelong.

What country is your selected Place located in?

Australia

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Farm My School team are all local residents to the G21 region and are passionate about where we live and further instilling a sense of place within our community. We have all worked extensively within the sustainability, education and local food systems sectors and are passionate about what we do. This innovative program is leading the Australian charge, forming partnerships with teachers, students, farmers and local businesses to create thriving neighbourhood hubs for learning, sharing, and connecting.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

The G21 region is substantial growth corridor in Australia. It is a highly desirable place to live with many positive attributes including:
- A region of stunning coastal scenery that includes the Great Ocean Road, one of the world's most scenic routes and home to the famous 12 Apostles.
-A growing local food scene; and
-A burgeoning hub for innovation, entrepreneurship and creative industries

Rural areas in G21 have high fertile land and enjoy good long term average rainfall. It has strong population growth that is providing a critical mass to many commercial and community services and it's proximity to metropolitan Melbourne has potential top leverage labour force.

These features contribute significantly to the community and social fabric within the region along with the local economy.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)

9000

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?

330000

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Challenges 2020:

Environment:
Urban Sprawl is threatening farmland.
The regions food bowl can currently provide enough food to meet 41% of the city’s food needs, but urban sprawl is putting this city-fringe farmland at risk.
Climate change and degradation of soil, air and water is compromising local production of food to meet future needs.

Diets:
Food education and accessibility to quality produce in Australia is lacking, with kids between 2 and 18 years old eating only 1.8 serves of veg a day on average. That’s only 1% of kids getting their recommended daily amount.
Compared with the states measure, areas within the G21 region have a very high percentage of residents who struggle to afford safe, healthy foods.
Many school food gardens fall short of their potential due to the high demands of food production- parents, teachers & volunteers don't have the time nor money to maintain food gardens and make them truly productive.

Economics:
There is a lack of affordability of fresh foods available.
The distance between local producers and major markets makes it more economical to process foods in areas outside the region.
Distribution of local food is inefficient. Local growers send fresh produce to Melbourne  markets. Local food retailers in turn source their products from these Melbourne markets for sale back in the region.
Food production in the region is decreasing as local farms are unable to remain economically viable.
New farmers are unable to access or afford land.
Shortage of money are major issues in schools, with over 83% of Victorian schools relying on fundraising in some way throughout the year.

Culture:
Due to the spread of urban development, most people experience a disconnect between the farm and the table.
Schools are looking for ways to develop how they can give young people practical skills and develop adaptation and mitigation strategies in relation to the climate crisis.
Exisiting school garden programs fall short of their potential. This is due to the high demands of urban food production; many parents, teachers and volunteers don't have the time nor money to maintain food gardens and make them truly productive.

Policy:
Many current council policies within the region do not accomodate and/or prohibit urban food production in public spaces. 

2050

The greater regions populations is predicted to grow to at least 7 million by 2050. As it grows, we will need 60% more food to feed the population. But at the same time, we are losing farmland due to urban sprawl. If the region continues to grow the way it has in the past, by the time we reach a population of 7 million people, the regions food bowl will have lost a significant amount of farmland.

We may only be able to meet around 18% of our overall food needs, and will go from meeting 82% of our vegetable needs to only 21%. We may only be able to meet 3% of our fruit needs.


Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

The Farm my School initiative

Imagine a school that can feed its community. A school, built around a farm. This urban farm features a market garden with an adjoining extensive fruit tree orchard. It provides produce to school families through the provision of weekly veggie boxes, supplies food to the school canteen and provides local restaurants with fresh produce. The urban farm forms part of the ‘Farm My School’ program, an innovative, ground-breaking model whereby schools partner with a local farmer to establish a commercially viable farm, with education at its core.

Connecting communities with their food:

Farm my school is working toward a world where food production forms a part of everyday urban life and acts as a source of inspiration, education and sustainability. Where growing food is accessible and inclusive and encourages the valuing of local, regenerative agriculture.

Farm my school will work with schools to turn unused land into productive urban farms with a market garden and adjoining fruit tree orchards.

Farm my School will empower and educate students about food production and healthy choices, provide affordable local produce to the community in veggie boxes, fundraise by returning a portion of each box sold to the school, act as an incubator for new farmers who lack access to land, provide a means for schools to sustainably manage school garden and address loss of agricultural land and urban food production.

In addition, hope this project not only engages the school but the wider community and becomes a hub for connection between people and their food. 

Grants, sponsorship and government funds will subsidise the establishment of the first school farms, after which we aim to establish a model of self sustaining school market gardens through economies of scale.

In order to achieve this, we will be tracking our financial model; measuring community engagement; gauge fundraising capacity and figure out how many people we can supply fresh produce with.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

Farm My School cultivates dynamic educational urban farms and programs. We promote healthy eating, ecological stewardship and connected communities. By transforming urban spaces, Farm My School creates thriving neighbourhood hubs for learning, sharing and connecting. Using the core values of permaculture, Farm My School teaches students to care for the earth, themselves and the people around them. Our key values are community, health, education and regeneration which guides us on the journey of growing our future.

The farm is used as an outdoor learning classroom and provides opportunities for: · Inquiry-based and cross curricular learning, promoting health and wellbeing learning outcomes, including improving students’ confidence, resilience and self-esteem, fostering positive student behaviour, particularly for those with behavioural and learning difficulties, encouraging students, families and neighbours to introduce life-long patterns of healthy eating and food literacy, volunteering and leadership development, future job skills training and community building experience for students, and an increase in school-community collaborations leading to healthy and engaged relationships.

Using the framework of permaculture, ‘Farm My School’ focuses on learning through the outdoors. ‘Farm My School’ encourages students to respect themselves, others and the environment. This program inspires joy, innovation and a positive, ‘can do’ attitude by providing a safe and fun environment where each child’s natural leadership is encouraged.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Our team are working hard on developing this concept to make it a reality, so future forecasts are yet to be developed. Farm My School's under-pinning vision and tagline is Growing our Future. Our team are committed to do just this.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Email
  • Website
  • A colleague referred us on to it

4 comments

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Spam
Photo of Zsofia Pasztor
Team

Hi, We build and run edible school gardens that are outdoor learning labs. If you think we can support you with sharing our experience, let us know. https://farmerfrog.org/

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