Future Farms

February 8, 2024
Stephanie Reisch

Project Title: Future Farms

School: Willetton Primary School

Creative Practitioner: Stephanie Reisch (Visual Artist)

Teacher: Bronwyn Mattock

Year Group: 4

Curriculum Area: Design & Technology

About our project: Future Farms

How can we continue to support a growing global population without further compromising the health of the planet? With their Creative Schools project focusing on Design and Technology, 31 Year 4 students took a deep dive into the farming practices of the future. Spider silk, cockroach milk, and vertical gardens. Nothing was off limits!

What happened:

Led by teacher Bronwyn Mattock and visual artist Stephanie Reisch, ‘Future Farms’ aimed to cast a critical eye on current farming practices to conceive more ethical and sustainable alternatives. The premise was simple yet challenging: how to continue supporting a growing global population without further compromising the health of the planet?

An integral part of the project was envisioning the farmers of the future. No longer would they just be individuals tilling the land; they would be tech-savvy, sustainability-focused innovators. We asked students to profile these farmers of the future, detailing their day-to-day activities and the technologies they might employ.

Referencing spider farms in 19th century Madagascar, students discussed the viability of reviving spider silk production as an alternative to wool. As well as being admired for their super strength protein threads, spiders don’t require large pastures for grazing. They are, however, cannibalistic, leading to the class speculating on innovative design projects that could consider the wellbeing of these eight-legged wonders as well as silk output.

The class also looked at dairy alternatives and investigated the rising popularity of plant-based milks, such as soy, almond and oat. The goal was to highlight that as the world leans more towards environmentally conscious industries, our dietary habits too might see a seismic shift. This exploration led the class to come up with more ambitious suggestions, such as cockroach, whale, and even human milk!

As cities continue to expand, space is a luxury many growers don’t have. To address food and land scarcity issues, we introduced the class to the idea of vertical gardens. Working in small groups, we asked students to design a prototype for a vertical garden structure, and carefully select the types of fruit, herbs and vegetables that would thrive in such an environment. These garden concepts were later amalgamated into a single vertical structure and erected on school grounds by the students with the aid of parent helpers.  

What we discovered:

As our students delved into the intricacies of sustainable farming and the implications of our current agricultural practices, they became more aware of the fragile balance of our ecosystem. It became evident that to build a sustainable future, one must be rooted in the ethos of caring about the planet. Future Farms was an endeavour to instil a sense of responsibility in our emerging leaders, and it was heartening to see students view farming as a dynamic, ever-evolving profession filled with endless possibilities.

Main Curriculum Focus: Design & Technology