Farm of the Future @ Royal Easter Show

The UNE Discovery team were grateful to be a part of the Farm of the Future Pavilion at the Sydney Royal Easter Show for the second year. This was our first year contributing to the Royal Agricultural Society Education Program, helping tell stories of agriculture, science and our region, and providing professional development for teachers from around NSW.

An estimated 300,000 visitors to the pavilion over 12 days were able to get hands-on with a variety of Discovery-based activities:

  • Soil study pit: where together with children and adults we tested pH and physical attributes of two types of soil;
  • Greenseeker grass: where visitors could use technology on a handheld scale that researchers and farmers use from satellites to understand pasture growth rates;
  • Water play: Our 300L tub with moveable feast of PVC pipes and funnels kept thousands of children entertained every day, sparking conversations about water in our environment;
  • Birds Bats & Beneficials tables: with microscopes, bee models, lots of beneficial insects, including live dung beetles and bee and bat homes;
  • The Dung Beetle Hotel: A display of live dung beetles doing their thing rolling cow dung around a clear perspex box filled with sand. This one was truly transformational in terms of how visitors thought about beneficial insects across our country, both city and rural areas;
  • Puzzle sheep: a unique life size sheep puzzle created via a collaboration with Red Blue Architecture + Design in Sydney. The sheep were a hit with children and families who wrestled with the large pieces to discover the different parts of a sheep.

We joined over 60 UNE academics, industry partners and students in our efforts across 13 days of constant visitors to the pavilion. On Good Friday almost 30,000 people descended upon us throughout the day.

Dr Kirsti Abbott, Dr Siobhan Dennison and Andrea Jaggi joined forces with Picture You in Agriculture and Young Farming Champions to help deliver educational and fun sessions to hundreds of primary school students as part of Primary Preview Day. It is an opportunity for teachers and students to see the Woolworths Food Farm exhibitors before the show starts officially. Classes move between hands-on sessions to learn about soil, grains, fruit production, wool and much more.

Joining Kirsti and Siobhan for Teacher Professional Development days was Linc Urquhart, former UNE Smart Farm education officer and current high school ag and science teacher. UNE was given an hour to talk pasture growth rate and agtech, and joined the NSW Department of Education, Royal Agricultural Society, Farmwall, Colo High School and Cotton Australia to deliver a diverse range of sessions across the ag curriculum.

There are many rewards being at the Farm of the Future Pavilion, not least the moments we share with visitors who learn something about agriculture, ecology, farming or our planet for the first time, and whose minds are blown. Working together to bring these educational and inspirational moments to life is something we value as UNE Discovery.