One of country NSW’s most successful recycling projects is continuing to provide significant funds for local schools.
Narrabri Shire Council has signed a new share farming agreement with the Narrabri Community Education Trust to operate ‘Federation Farm’.
The visionary recycling and production project was launched in 2001 when the 303ha farm was bought by the council.
It was officially opened by the then NSW Premier, Bob Carr.
Federation Farm is an ongoing ‘win-win’ for the community and the environment.
The project now provides about 760ML of waste water a year from Narrabri sewage treatment plant once destined for the Namoi River to be used on Federation
Farm to irrigate cotton and other crops.
Water is piped 14km from the treatment plant to the farm.
But the inspired community project extends beyond an environmental contribution to healthier waterways.
When the project was launched the four Narrabri schools – Narrabri High, Narrabri Public, Narrabri West Public and St Francis Xavier’s banded together to take on the farm management and share the profits on a per capita basis.
“Since the farm has been in operation, the Trust has returned more than a million dollars to the Council and more than $600,000 to the four schools,” said Narrabri Shire Council’s Director of Infrastructure Delivery, Darren Raek.
“These funds have been used for a wide range of improvements that would not have been possible otherwise – upgrades to classrooms, new laptops, interactive whiteboards, irrigation systems and seating areas are among some examples.
“Council is extremely supportive of continuing this long-standing relationship with the Narrabri Community Education Trust.
“Federation Farm is not only an innovative and environmentally friendly farm, it is also a great community asset that allows local students the opportunity to be involved in agricultural activity.”
Chairman of the Narrabri Community Education Trust, Dr Warwick Stiller, has had a long association with Federation Farm as an agricultural researcher and a parent of children who attend Narrabri schools.
“One of the unique aspects of the Farm is that it truly is a community asset,” said Dr Stiller.
“It’s a tool to improve the environment, a source of employment for locals, a revenue stream for our local schools and it’s an educational resource to give students a firsthand experience of agriculture and growing crops.
“The signing of this new agreement allows the Farm to continue production during this very difficult time.
“We are still growing cotton albeit a reduced area.
“More importantly, we are still distributing funds to the schools – funds that are probably more important at this time than any other in the history of the collaboration between the Trust and the Council.”