Our Unit 4 Food Studies boys recently attended a ‘tour’ of Boundary Fence Farm in Balling East (near Bacchus Marsh). All plans were for us to don gumboots and get a taste of farm life, but, like many other events in these pandemic times, the latest lockdown thwarted original plans and so our tour was over Zoom instead.
Our tour leader was fourth generation farmer, Kate Sharkey. Kate and her husband are food and fibre producers. The focus of the tour for the Food Studies unit was to get a real life and practical look at the issues of food security and ethical and sustainable food production.
Kate discussed the sustainable regenerative food production system used at the farm and the advantages and disadvantages of this system in comparison with traditional intensive farming and organic food production systems. Students inspected the wheat crops and viewed the technology utilised in farming, such as mobile phones and drones; and the machinery and chemicals used on the farm via the extensive library of photos that we were shown. Very topically, Kate outlined the advantages and disadvantages of genetically modified crops. Pictures of the properties protected bulloak trees and native grasses demonstrated the importance of biodiversity at the farm. The free-range piggery introduced the boys to the crucial aspects of biosecurity, livestock tracking and strict quarantine requirements of Australia’s food system.
It was a shame that we couldn’t physically visit, but Kate’s willingness to answer questions and her lived knowledge of the balance needed between sustainability ideals and practicalities of running and making a business out of farming helped our Food Studies students gain information about their topic of choice for their major assessment piece.