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Farmwall installation launches at Hume Central Secondary College

By Katherine Doherty // 23/06/2022, 4:25PM

Today, Farmwall and Hume Central Secondary College partnered to launch our new project, with the school’s Dimboola Road Campus becoming the first to replace vending machines in the canteen with a Farmwall Aquaponic Farming Unit. This is an exciting step for the school, and for Farmwall’s mission to transform the future of food through education. The Farmwall will allow students to grow their own vegetables in the canteen, harnessing the natural relationship between fish and plants to grow food with the nutrients produced by a sub-tropical fish tank. Alongside a mushroom-growing installation from Sporadical City Mushrooms, these new features of the canteen will promote both healthy eating, sustainable growing, and engagement with the natural world.

“We’re really excited to work with Hume Secondary College to demonstrate the potential for urban farming to contribute to food security and wellbeing,” says Geert Hendrix, CEO and Founder at Farmwall. “We believe this will get students excited about the possibility of careers in sustainable agriculture, as well as improving their mental and physical health on a daily basis.” Agriculture is projected to be Australia’s next billion dollar industry, with many opportunities for workers in a wide variety of sectors to contribute to food and fibre production. As we move from traditional farming practices to high-tech, environmentally-conscious approaches, agriSTEM is becoming an extremely important field, and a field of study which presents major opportunities to young people. Unfortunately agriculture is still an overlooked career path by many young people, particularly those in urban areas. Farmwall’s programs introduce students to these possibilities, and this new major installation is an exciting opportunity to scale-up our impact.

While physical health, career opportunities and sustainability are all vitally important, we are also particularly excited by the potential for this indoor farming project to support mental health and wellbeing. Schools have been particularly impacted by the disruptions and difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past few years - students have been “more distracted, disobedient and unsettled in their friendships,” and unprecedented numbers of teachers have considered quitting or actually resigned from their roles. There are obviously many factors playing into this situation, but we hope that embracing the principles of biophilia, as well as giving students a chance for the hands-on, practical learning that they may have missed while studying online, may contribute to supporting the wellbeing of the school community. Biophilia is the idea that humans have an innate connection with nature, and the presence of natural elements - e.g. water, plants, animals, natural light - in our built environments can significantly improve our experience and wellbeing in these spaces. Creating a space in the school which allows students and staff contact with living and growing things, where they can take time out from the stressors of the school day to recharge and interact with nature, will help to support and ground a community which is still finding its feet in the wake of the pandemic.

Finally, alongside its many other impacts and benefits, the Farmwall will be a focal point of learning about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and engaging students in acting for a healthier and more just world. Students who grow vegetables in the Farmwall will be able to vote for SDGs they want to support, and Farmwall will help them support charities working on these areas. With young people reporting significant anxiety around the environment, it is vital that we give them opportunities to take practical action for a sustainable future, while learning about the bigger picture issues.

This installation is a huge step for both Farmwall and Hume Central Secondary College, and we are incredibly excited to see the impacts on the health and wellbeing of the student community. While Hume Central is the first school in Australia to introduce this kind of sustainable urban farming to their facilities, we are currently working on a similar installation with Whittlesea Tech School. This is just the beginning, and we could not be more thrilled to bring the benefits of urban farming and healthy eating to students across Australia!

To learn more about Hume Central Secondary College, and their new Farmwall installation, click here.