Agriculture has formed the basis of James Ruse Agricultural High School for all of the 40 years of the school's existence. Since the early days of Carlingford Agricultural High, the school has been at the forefront of agricultural education in New South Wales. We proudly continue with this tradition with the school agriculture website. Agriculture is the raising of crops and animals to provide food, fibre and other raw materials needed by society. Agriculture is a critically important industry in Australia, providing food and materials for domestic consumption and also export revenue. It is the continuing teaching of agriculture that is vital to the future of Australia and at James Ruse, students are challenged to learn about it in the living dynamic context of a farm where they have the opportunity to enhance their learning through a variety of learning styles. With the challenge to feed an ever-increasing world population and maintain and improve the environment in which we live, numerous exciting career opportunities are available in Agriculture.
As a subject, Agriculture is an applied science demanding knowledge of the fundamental science upon which it is based, arriving at an understanding of the three major factors in agricultural production - the soil, the plant, and the animal. So the student may appreciate fully the theoretical aspects of the subject, the school provides the necessary facilities for practical work, both in the classrooms and in the field. The school has five hectares of farm area which is arranged to include a vegetable garden, a glasshouse and nursery, an orchard, experimental plots, an area for field crops and a livestock section. Study and practical work at the school are supplemented by frequent excursions to places of special agricultural interest. In addition to its academic aspects agriculture provides urban students with a most satisfying contact with farm animals and the opportunity to grow their own crops. Agriculture is a compulsory course for Years 7 to 10 and is optional for all students in Years 11.
The farm is adjacent to the school on the northern side and covers an area of about 8 hectares. Its primary function is agricultural education, providing a hands-on environment where students are able to observe and actively participate in its running. The school farm also supplies opportunities for students to grow and harvest their own crops and to conduct experimental trials. It consists of several main sections:
The farm incorporates a number of enterprises designed to maximise the students' exposure to the different farming processes and experiences:
Our prime lamb enterprise has been in operation for several years and utilises first-cross ewes (Merino x Leicester) and a Poll Dorset ram to produce lambs sold to the market.
The award-winning cattle stud consists of Angus cattle which are regularly shown at various agricultural shows (eg Castle Hill) where we have received many awards. Our cattle stud is used as genetic seed stock for the Angus breed.
The poultry enterprise consists of both a broiler (raised for their meat) and a layer (raised for their eggs) operation. Layer chickens are purchased as pullets and are divided between a free-range system and a barn-egg system. Broiler chickens are raised from day-old chicks and housed in the barn. All produce is sold to students, parents and teachers. The broilers are sent away to be processed and then sold as frozen chickens while the eggs are also sold through the canteen.
The school maintains several bee hives for the production of honey. The honey is extracted at school and sold to students.The hives are mantained by the Amateur Beekeepers Association of Parramatta.
The school grows an annual crop of maize (sweetcorn) at the end of Term 4 which is harvested at the start of Term 1 the following year with the cobs sold to students. The school uses no pesticide on the crop and while this typically results in some insect damage on most cobs, the timing and nature of the harvest ensures the corn is very sweet every year.
The school grows a dwarf variety of Washington Navel oranges. The harvested oranges are sold to the school community.
The school grows a variety of peach in the orchard. These are sold as fresh fruit or made into jam.
In addition to the school curricula, there are several extra-curricular activities related to Agriculture offered: