Young growers build trust through farm art

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Photo of Lynne Strong with Young Farming Champions

Art4Agriculture national program director Lynne Strong (far right) with Young Farming Champions and the 2014 winning ‘Archibull’.

Building trust between consumers and growers is at the heart of the Art4Agriculture program being rolled out across schools in New South Wales and Queensland for its sixth successive year in 2016.

The program brings farming into the classrooms, teaming ‘Young Farming Champions’ with school students in the ‘Archibull Prize’ competition.

Students from the 32 schools use a life-size fibreglass cow as a blank canvas to create an artwork conveying a particular theme, which in 2016 is ‘Feeding, Clothing and Powering a Hungry Nation is a Shared Responsibility’.

The students are guided by a Young Farming Champion, representing an agricultural sector such as grains, cotton, wool, cattle or sheep.

In 2016 the GRDC is supporting eight Young Farming Champions who, through the program, are sharing positive nutritional and environmental messages about farming.

Art4Agriculture national program director Lynne Strong says: “The power of sending young people into schools as advocates is quite profound.”

The program has already created more positive attitudes among students towards issues such as growers’ “wise use” of water and environmental management.

Ms Strong says benefits of the program, funded by the NSW Department of Primary Industries, NSW Local Land Services and industry bodies, will continue to play out in five, 10 and 15 years’ time as the students take with them the experience and understanding of an industry that is open, transparent and sustainable.

“Essentially, Art4Agriculture programs are a preventive medicine for agriculture,” she says, pointing to 2014 US Center for Food Integrity research indicating shared values between growers and consumers are up to five times more important than skills, technical expertise and science in building consumer trust.

“By training a cohort of young people to act as farming ambassadors for their industries, they are ensuring the urban consumer’s images and perceptions of farming match the reality of modern farming practices.”

Ms Strong says the young ambassadors learn from each other through meeting people from other industries and seeing the shared problems and solutions.

Ms Strong says the young ambassadors also open students’ eyes to careers in agriculture.

This is a key reason for the GRDC’s support of the program, says GRDC capacity building and national programs research manager Isa Yunusa: “Today’s youth form the base resource for the workforce in grains, and are therefore critical for meeting the skills capacity both in the short term and, most importantly, in the future,” he says.

In the meantime, the school students are learning about important agricultural and food security issues through entertaining, artistic mediums, with prizes awarded for the Archibull artwork, blogs, animation and infographics.

“This is a great initiative to encourage students to learn and build confidence around farming and natural resources, how the food they eat can be impacted by challenges such as climate variability and biosecurity threats and to find out more about future career opportunities,” says NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Lands and Water Niall Blair, whose office foyer will house the winning Archibull entry for 12 months.

More information:

Lynne Strong,
0407 740 446,
lynnestrong@art4agriculture.com.au,

Art4Agriculture

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