Timboon turning lavender
Timboon is located 217 km outside of Melbourne in the Corangamite shire, a strong dairy and regional tourism district. Timboon is heavily influenced by agriculture, with approximately 50% of students from each year level living on dairy farms or having families reliant on agriculture for household income. To cater to this strong area of interest, the school created an agricultural curriculum to engage its students. Business study students conducted an extensive analysis, including costings, of business opportunities that the school could undertake on the grounds. The research led the school to develop a plan to run a commercial lavender farm.
Curriculum driven by community demographics
Thanks to a $10,000 ANZ Seeds of Renewal grant administered by FRRR, the school has become the only lavender oil producer between Portland and Geelong. The school was awarded the grant to purchase the necessary distilling equipment required to create lavender oil. They imported a state-of-the-art steam still from New Zealand, after the students researched the best option. They have also used the grant to buy oil storage equipment, install a state-of-the-art drip irrigation system, and buy equipment to support the maintenance of the lavender plants.
Since the school added agriculture into the curriculum last year, more than 58 agribusinesses and community members have been involved. Classes such as science, commerce, maths and a VCAL agricultural class all revolve around the commercial lavender farm. The school has worked closely with the community to ensure the project is a success, and the students’ involvement in all aspects of the operation has been directly linked to the farm becoming commercially viable.
Grant brings plan to fruition
The support from FRRR’s ANZ Seeds of Renewal program saw the Timboon P-12 school’s lavender farm transform from an idea into reality. Principal Rosalie Moorfield said that the school was extremely grateful for the ongoing support they have received from FRRR. She said that while there have been many learning opportunities along the way (including learning to grow the lavender in mounds so that they do not get wet feet in winter and drown!), they consider the project to be a real success.
"It’s very much been a learning process, as our base knowledge was zero. Many people including a local strawberry farmer, the Lavender Association and Landmark have supported us with their time and expertise. We feel we are kicking goals with our community and improving educational outcomes for our students," she said.