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College ups its agricultural offer

Students at Kuranui College [KC] have been attending one lesson a week outside of the classroom – on the college’s own school farm.

Under lease from the South Wairarapa District Council since the start of the year, the one-hectare farm was previously an overgrown, neglected ‘paper road’ that had been the site of illegal dumping.

The property can be accessed from either Papawai Rd or Wakelin St in Greytown.

KC Farming Wananga teacher Annemieke van Vliet said the school aims to “revitalise this space, transforming it into a mini farm that students can utilise for agricultural education and practice”.

The college’s optional wānanga sessions – equivalent to two school periods – take place on Wednesday afternoon, from 12.50pm to 1.30pm and then again from 2.15 pm to 3.15 pm.

Occasionally teachers may extend the session into the students’ lunch break or engage in off-site trips, which can alter their usual schedule, van Vliet said.

During these sessions, students take part in practical work, such as fencing, broom removal, and setting up water troughs, as well as visiting neighbouring farms.

“Wananga at KC provides students with the opportunity to participate in activities that allow them to explore their passions and interests while developing skills and competencies in a non-traditional learning environment,” van Vliet said.

“The emphasis is on authentic, real-world learning. Our farming group is focusing on turning around the land into a functional farm for 2024 and to offer the students to learn hands-on skills.”

Although agriculture had always been offered to students as a subject, there previously wasn’t any land for practical work – therefore, horticulture took the “front foot”.

“Now, with an opportunity to give students more hands-on opportunities in the agricultural scene, we have seen an increase in uptake, as well as students seeking involvement in the Primary ITO farming program with Shane Boderick,” van Vliet said.

During the year, 35 year 9–10 students have put their hands up to work on the farm, but as Wananga options change each semester, van Vliet said she sometimes sees new students come in while others trial another interest of their choice.

“As the only secondary school located in South Wairarapa, and being surrounded by countless agricultural opportunities, we saw a gap in our curriculum that suited our hands-on students who were clearly interested in agricultural opportunities,” she said.

“We make it a point to gather input from our students, taking into account their individual interests, and integrate those into our initiatives.”

Past tours of farms have included Hamish Hammond’s for waterway planting, JR’s Orchards with John van Vliet, and interactions with Shane McManoway at Ongaha.

“Each of these individuals has played a significant role in the development of our farm, and it was a remarkable experience to witness them in their respective industries and environments, sharing their valuable knowledge,” van Vliet said.

“I’ve had the privilege of tapping into the vast knowledge and networks of numerous individuals in Wairarapa region, particularly those from the south. Observing their willingness to contribute their time, resources, and expertise to this project is truly heartwarming.”

Meanwhile, agriculture – as well as horticulture – will continue to be offered as a subject to year 9 and 10 students in 2024.

“Given the extensive work we’ve undertaken over the past year and the enthusiastic engagement from members of the community, it’s been exciting to note that we’ve become a popular topic of discussion among the year 8 students who are enrolling.”

According to van Vliet, the school has seen a significant increase in enrolment for its Primary ITO courses – which take place on Wednesdays with both morning and afternoon sessions.

She believes the subject has played a pivotal role in shaping students’ decisions about a future in the agriculture sector through the connections they have and will continue to make in the farming wānanga and the school’s Primary ITO program.

The following people and businesses have donated time/supplies for the school’s farm:

Greytown Trustlands Trust

Kuranui College Board of Trustees

Mark Matchett from Turtons Farm Supplies

Baynet [netting]

Craig and Lisa from Zip Plumbing Carterton

Ed Handyside

Gallagher [power unit]

Jono, Reuben, William and Thomas from J and R contracting [fencing]

Mike Butterick [Federated Farmers]

John van Vliet from JR’s Orchards

Aaron Woodcock and Jay from Rural Works Ltd

Hamish Hammond

Tony Haslett and Jess Morrison from Fonterra and Farm Source [Hapori Programme Grant]

Eastern and Central Community Trust

PGG Wrightson Masterton [giftcard]

John Phelps

Shane McManoway

John Rawhiti

Hugh Morrison

Pope and Gray, Greytown

If you or your business is interested in getting involved with KC’s farm, email [email protected] or call the school on 06 304 9116.

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