Students lend a hand to farmers crippled by drought
STUDENTS across NSW will leave their uniforms hanging at home and wear mufti to school today to raise money for drought-ravaged farmers.
Children will donate a gold coin to wear casual clothes as part of the Adopt a Farmer campaign.
The day will raise funds for Rural Aid to distribute Visa cards with $100 on them to thousands of struggling farmers across NSW, Queensland and Victoria.
At Belmore South Public School, teachers will conduct lessons outside to show pupils what happens to plants in dry conditions as a way of illustrating the challenges facing NSW farmers to simply keep their crops and livestock alive.
"We're trying to develop our garden and this is an opportunity to discuss the consequences of when we don't get enough water and when plants can't grow," Belmore South principal Lurlene Mitchell said on Tuesday.
"It's about the importance of our rural and remote communities because most of the crops for cattle and crows (is going dry)."
Student Yara Minkara, 8, said she was looking forward to wearing casual clothes and having lessons in her school's garden to learn more about what farmers need to deal with before bringing food to dinner tables.
"I think it's not fair that (farmers) are treating Australia so well and there's lots of droughts," she said.
"All their animals and all their flowers are all soon going to be dying and I don't think they'll be able to give us the nutrition we need."
The gold coin Adopt a Farmer mufti day will help to support 8000 farmers doing it tough.
Pupils will also be able to write to farmers they adopt to learn more about what it is like to be battling a drought.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the campaign was vitally important.
"I want to stress how important and significant the Adopt a Farmer initiative is," Mr Barilaro said.
"This campaign shows regional communities across NSW that people in the cities are listening and want to support them during this devastating drought.
"The more we spread the word about how tough the conditions are for NSW farmers, the more money we can raise."
Mr Barilaro will join Education Minister Sarah Mitchell at Willoughby Girls High School as the school raises money for farmers with a bake sale among other initiatives.
NSW Department of Education Deputy Secretary Murat Dizdar said public school students had been hit hard by the drought.
"I know that many schools will want to get behind this latest national initiative and we support them to do so."
AT 102, LEN CAN JUDGE A DROUGHT
Of all the droughts to hit NSW over the past century the current dry spell is one of the longest, according to former shopkeeper Len Guy. Mr Guy doesn't need a history book to tell him that, he has lived through all of them.
The 102-year-old great-great-grandfather is about to celebrate another birthday and can only hope it comes with some much-needed rain for the state's farmers, including his son, who has a sheep property at Tullamore.
"This is about one of the longest droughts," he said. "The rainfall patterns seem to be changing too."
Mr Guy, who retired from running his family's shop at Binnaway in 1981, said he has watched many small regional NSW towns decline.
"The smaller towns are gradually dying," he said.
The spritely centenarian - who does not use hearing aids, glasses or walking aids - insists there's no secret to his longevity.
LICENCE TO PRINT
Tottenham Central School has joined forces with Dubbo Printing Works who have offered "mates rates" to print their drought cookbook, which has become a runaway success after being featured in The Daily Telegraph.
The $12 "Best Cook Book Ever. Probably" was created with the recipes from members of the school community.
Principal Amanda Thorpe said the school's "humble" photocopier would not have coped with the large number of orders.