Shaping the future of our rapidly changing world is largely going to be in the hands of a younger generation. To raise awareness of the issues of climate change, and the potential of regenerative farming to build resilience, we developed a programme aimed at educating school children on these issues.
The Youth Farming Initiative is a 5 month programme with the goal of tackling youth unemployment in rural farming communities and to help build the next generation of farmers. Developed in 2017, the specific focus was to teach children the basic principles of farming, nutrition and income generation and to give them the skills and confidence to earn a living through organic agriculture, and thus, making farming be seen as a viable career. Each school group is allocated a plot of land to manage and they are educated on the importance of sustainable farming, resource management, plastic pollution and the impact of pests. Activities include making compost using available resources, land preparation, nursery beds, planting and spacing of crops, making their own organic pesticide and other basic agribusiness skills. Anything they harvest can either be taken home or sold.
The programme also provides a broader engagement with environmental issues with students helping to clear local rivers and beaches of rubbish. Any old plastic water bottles are collected and brought back to the farm where they are taught how to repurpose and reuse the wasted bottles as plant pots.
The initiative adopts a ground-up approach by reframing sustainable farming, re-engaging the future generation of farmers, and offering real alternatives to unemployment.