Forty-five primary schools across New Zealand will soon be better equipped to teach their students about where food and fibre come from after winning George the Farmer book sets in a competition run by agri lending specialist Rabobank.
The competition – which ran in early September – was open to all primary schools across NZ and attracted close to 250 entries. The winning schools were announced recently, and the new educational book sets will be delivered to schools early in Term 4. The sets feature six George the Farmer books, with each book covering a different agricultural sector.
Rabobank Upper North Island client council chair Donna Arnold said the bank’s client council network developed the competition with the aim of improving knowledge about farming and food production among young New Zealanders.
“Initiatives developed by the client councils are centred around five key themes – two of which are agricultural education and the urban/rural divide,” she said.
“The book sets link to both of these themes, and we are very excited to be working together with George the Farmer to increase awareness of food and fibre production and to share his books with tamariki across New Zealand.”
George the Farmer is a fictional character featured in a series of books, paddock to plate videos on YouTube and educational resources.
His story began in 2012 when South Australia-based farmer Simone Kain was trawling the internet looking for farming books and apps for her farm-obsessed son, George. Kain discovered there wasn’t a human farming character globally who was telling sequential stories about life on the land for children.
In 2014, the George the Farmer book and educational resource series was officially born and over the past nine years more than 100,000 Aussie kids have connected to the earth, food and farm through the adventures of George, his agronomist wife Dr Ruby and their twin children Lucy and Jack.
The books are garnering attention and sales outside of Australia with stockists in the United States and Canada selling the brand over the past nine months and retail sales being sent to many countries and territories, including the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and NZ.
Arnold said one of the books in the packs that will be delivered to New Zealand schools features Kev and Susan – gun shearers from New Zealand.
“In the book George the Farmer Shears a Sheep, Kev and Susan help George and Ruby shear their sheep before the weather sets in. Kev is the New Zealand Shearing Champion having won the event by taking the fleece off a sheep in just 16 seconds!”
Arnold said each George the Farmer book was connected to a set of learning resources that can be accessed by teachers online.
“With help from Simone and the New Zealand Agribusiness in Schools programme, seven New Zealand-specific learning resources have recently been developed which focus on apples, dairy, crayfishing, wool and wheat, peas, sustainable forestry and plantation forestry,” she said.
“These great new resources are now available on the Agribusiness in Schools website. They include a huge variety of activities for Year 1 to Year 5 students and will really help to further expand students’ understanding of some of New Zealand’s key agricultural sectors.”
Arnold said she is confident the book sets will prove a hit with NZ children.