Never more than in these current uncertain times can Australians be assured about the country’s strong capability to feed the nation. And students across the country have the opportunity to gain even further appreciation of where their food and fibre comes from – and help bridge the rural/urban divide – thanks to the innovative From Paddock to Plate program.
From Paddock to Plate (FP2P) is an online resources library for primary and high school teachers and students to learn about food and agriculture in Australia, comprising more than 350 unique, thought-provoking and engaging virtual video excursions designed for the classroom.
Originally launched in 2008, the FP2P has recently gained the national support of agricultural banking specialist Rabobank, through a partnership with the RaboClientCouncils – groups of the bank’s farming clients who meet to discuss issues and implement initiatives to contribute to the sustainability of rural communities.
From Paddock to Plate founder and director Louise FitzRoy attributed her initial motivation for developing the program to growing up on a sheep and cattle property in northern NSW and seeing her father’s frustration with “people taking the abundance of food on the supermarket shelves for granted”.
“Years later I found myself travelling around Australia as an ABC Rural reporter and realised that my Dad wasn’t the only one – this was a common feeling amongst many food and fibre producers,” Ms FitzRoy said. “My first reaction was to educate – if we can educate our future leaders on where the food that they eat comes from, and how important it is to support this supply chain, then we can build a more sustainable future, a stronger economy and a healthier population.”
Grassroots learning from the classroom
Ms FitzRoy said FP2P gives every student – both urban and rural – the opportunity to learn about where their food comes from, regardless of year level or subject, and encourages students to make healthier eating choices and more sustainable food packaging decisions, particularly in regards to their lunchboxes.
It also, she said, offers career inspiration, and both life and business skills, to assist students in their high school years.
The program aims to inspire teachers nationally to incorporate FP2P into every class, and is facilitated by Australian curriculum-aligned, multi-subject virtual video excursions,
lesson plans, practical projects, podcast packs, master classes, fillable online worksheets, farmer profiles and recipes, for both primary and high school students.
The success of the program, she said, was largely due to the strong FP2P network, particularly the numerous Australian farmers who share unique raw and unedited insights into food and fibre production to make the authentic and reputable platform one-of-a-kind.
“We have farmers filming short ‘piece to cameras’ for us while they’re mustering cattle, in the sheep yards, or on the tractor sowing grain. Teachers continually remark on the high quality of our film productions and the robust and passionate discussions between students that follow watching a FP2P video,” she said.
Bridging the rural/urban divide
From Paddock to Plate provides a sense of community for students and increases environmental awareness and support for farmers to help to bridge the rural/urban divide, Ms FitzRoy said.
RaboClientCouncil chair for South Australia and north western Victoria, Claire Catford said the Client Council was thrilled to be supporting the FP2P initiative, and believed much of the program’s success was thanks to the collaborative strength between Rabobank and FP2P.
“Bringing together Rabobank’s strong community presence and engagement and built on the foundation of FP2P’s reputable, well-structured program, this initiative has provided the opportunity to successfully promote the agricultural industry and make a positive impact,” she said.
With a focus on supporting education, and promotion of the many and varied agricultural career opportunities, Mrs Catford said, FP2P aligned with RaboClientCouncil goals, thanks to its engaging and relevant content, and “as a platform that delivers on our aim to inspire all young Australians and advocate a positive perception of the agricultural industry”.
Integrated into school curriculum
The program significantly reduces lesson preparation time and the cost of updating textbooks, and Ms FitzRoy said teacher feedback also suggests students are extremely engaged in FP2P.
“Teachers often provide feedback on new industries and topics that they would like included in the resources library. We’re always open to their suggestions, and have four more videos ready to film as soon as we are able to travel again.”
Currently schools can register for a 30-day trial subscription of the program, and thanks to the RaboClientCouncil, at the end of the trial, schools may be eligible to receive a
$200 concession towards its $450 (+ GST) 12-month subscription fee.
Ms FitzRoy encourages schools to discover the opportunities available within the FP2P school resources, and thanked the RaboClientCouncils for their generous support.
“Paddock to Plate thinks outside the square, continuously offering updated teaching
resources that are changing the way young people think about food, sustainability,
environment, business, and agriculture beyond the classroom,” she said. “This is more than a school resource – FP2P helps students see the bigger picture, and our ultimate goal is that it is eventually incorporated into every school curriculum in Australia.”