3 Aug 2018

Growing our future farmers

From Country Life, 9:40 pm on 3 August 2018

If every city school "adopted" a farmer, more students might consider farming as a career, says Wakefield sheep and beef farmer Sue Higgins, who is also Rural Women New Zealand's education spokesperson.

Sue Higgins

Sue Higgins Photo: RNZ/Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

Capturing the curiosity of young children is the key to filling gaps in the agricultural workforce and would be a marvellous thing to do, Sue says.

She would like to see education around farming made available to all children from a young age.

Many urban children, in particular, have very limited or even no exposure to country life, Sue says,

"When I was a child we all had an uncle or an auntie on the farm, that we would visit on Sunday afternoons. That's not the case anymore, so I truly believe that teaching the food story will engage them and let them know where food came from."

Sue Higgins took part in the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme and went on to deliver a presentation at the Beehive about the importance of teaching agriculture in schools as part of her project From the Sandpit to the Paddock - Growing our future farmers.

Sue lives at Fanny's Knob Farm with her husband Phillip, whose family has been on the property since 1850.

The couple also run a fencing contracting business.

After careful planning, their son Sam recently became the sixth generation of the family to farm the land.

"Succession is why we have built up the contracting business. Phillip realised right from the start that we would need another income in order for us to be able to afford to farm here."