'Farm School' is officially open at Matthew Flinders Anglican College on the Sunshine Coast with an old shed in the heart of the school’s agriculture farm refurbished as a new classroom for students from Prep to Year 12.
Built to a “rustic” design, the new classroom has roller doors on either side that open to let students experience the sights and smells of the Flinders Farm, which is home to 14 chickens, a duck named Daffy, an emu called Erol and 10 productive European bee hives.
The half-hectare farm also boasts a 600m2 orchard with a variety of fruit trees (avocadoes, limes, mandarines, oranges, lychees, mangoes and oranges), 400m2 of vegetable gardens, as well as a compost making facility and commercial worm farm.
The new farm classroom has internet connectivity and connection to a weather station for project work, and will be used for a mix of subjects including the Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Visual Art, Industrial Technology and Design.
Principal Stuart Meade said the Flinders Farm had been developed over the past three years as a thriving real-world learning hub for students.
“The Flinders Farm has become one of the favourite zones on our College campus,” Mr Meade said.
“Students and staff love to visit from week to week to see what is happening and to get their hands dirty in the gardens,” he said.
“Students in Agricultural Science have engaged in hands-on learning at the Farm for many years, and this new classroom will enable even more students to learn across more subjects.
“There aren’t many classrooms that have chickens walking through the space and an emu trying to poke its head through the window - it’s fantastic!”
Head of Curriculum Bill Hooper said, “The new Flinders Farm classroom provides a wonderfully authentic learning context for our students.
“The students will use the space to investigate pressing global issues such as the genetic modification of plants, food security, sustainability, and the impacts of climate,” he said.
“Most importantly, right outside their door, students now have a living laboratory and access to resident farmer Jeff who is very excited to have this new offering on farm land.”
Flinders Farm Manager Jeff MacLennan said the farm also welcomed plenty of visitors outside of formal class time.
“It’s exciting that our College community are keen to develop their environmental knowledge and passion through real-world projects, such as irrigation, composting, growing food and harvesting bee hives, here at the farm,” Jeff said.
“But it’s also very positive to have students and staff choosing to visit in their own time to help out where they can, whether that’s to pick some veggies, water a garden patch, or turn the compost,” he said.
“Farm life offers a pause from busy school life and is a great reminder that time in nature helps to restore health and energy.
“It’s also a place to learn valuable life skills, like how to grow your own food.”