Topic: The School Farm

Topic type:

The School Farm

The school farm was started in the spring of 1976 by Mr. John McDonald and Mr. Eric Blown, who was the science teacher at the time. At the time, it was a run-down piece of land with about forty under-nourished Romney ewes on it. Before taking on the farm, serious thought had to be given to the problems the previous tenant had faced - dogs worrying stock, petty vandalism, parts that were poorly drained and infertile, with one part having been used as a tip for rubbish.

From the start, the aim was to involve as many students as possible. Four hundred shepherds donʼt miss much and so pretty soon the dog attacks were minimised and the vandalism curbed. The hard work, inspiration and determination of the staff, parents and pupils created a farm with good fencing, well drained and fertile land and stock which won several prizes at the local A and P shows. The farm gave every child the chance to work on the land and to care in some way for the animals.

The farm was leased cheaply from the Masterton Borough Council at a peppercorn rental and was an educational experiment. It was fully equipped with stock facilities, sheep yards and a storage tank. The windmill was constructed by students and Mr. Ray Lory, the metalwork teacher, and a solar power pak was mounted to power the solar run electric fences, designed to save the school some money. In 1981 a dam was also constructed by some Form II students in the farm creek so that a water wheel could be used as an alternative energy source. Twenty years later, the school farm is still operational and provides groups of students opportunities to work with the various groups of animals - sheep, pigs, cows, chooks and bees.

Pictured at the beehives are some of the schoolʼs budding apiarists. Each term Mr. Banks the schoolʼs caretaker takes five or six students through a beekeeping course, a course that sees the students learning about the structure of a hive, bee behaviour and the making and extraction of honey.

Mr. Banks has been caretaker of the school for twenty five years and he brings to the position a wide range of skills that sees him lend a hand to any maintenance problem. He also has a huge task in keeping our grounds in tip top order, as well as providing assistance on the farm.