Greener pastures for MAGS farm
Teaching in the classroom is one thing but nothing beats real life experience.
The redevelopment of the Mt Albert Grammar School farm hopes to teach through practice.
Following the renewal of its lease in 2013, the 8.1 hectare model farm in Auckland is to evolve into a cuttingedge educational facility.
Principal Dale Burden says the project is about bringing the farm out of the 1950s.
‘‘It would be quite different if you went to see a real farm in action right now,’’ he says.
‘‘It’s more about mimicking current commercial practice as opposed to using it as a commercial farm.’’
MAGS has been leasing the farm from ASB since 1932 for a nominal fee of $1 a year. It features a variety of livestock and a classroom centre, educating 160 students a year.
The redevelopment will include building new classrooms, upgrading existing buildings, repairing fences and planting a range of vegetation.
‘‘The goal is to create a world class facility and experience centre,’’ Burden says. ‘‘It encourages kids to learn about all sorts of things in a farming sense and from a science aspect as well.’’
Head of agricultural science Kerryann Daffin says the benefits of having a practical model are clear.
‘‘It’s one thing to talk about the properties of soil but it’s another to actually get out there and dig up some dirt,’’ she says.
‘‘[The students] love it. Every day they walk into the classroom and ask if we’re going out today.’’
The farm has a range of livestock including pigs, chickens, sheep and cows.
Students learn some of the key aspects involved in farming animals but also vital safety skills such as correct quad bike riding.
The redevelopment will open many doors for students and the community, Daffin says.
‘‘It’s the best thing that could happen for the area.
‘‘Massey and Unitec come in for their practicals . . . we get lots of preschools and primary schools coming in.’’
The primary industries sector is expected to need 50,000 extra workers by 2025 with the majority requiring tertiary education. Burden says schools will need to take a more proactive approach if this target is to be met.
‘‘A little trickle of graduates needs to turn into a stream of graduates,’’ he says.
Students Brad Wright, Ronan Byrt, Leanne Burton and Vicky Wang take a hands-on approach at the shearing station.
Head of agricultural science Kerryann Daffin introduces students Tessa McGregor and Roderick Puafisi to one of the farm’s calves.