Greener pas­tures for MAGS farm

Central Leader - - NEWS - By ALASTAIR LYNN

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.

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