PHOTOS: Producers give city kids a taste of farm life

CALLIOPE farmers are putting school students to work.

But this isn't slave labour; they are agricultural students from Loganlea State High School, near Brisbane, on a camp.

This week they have built fences, helped muster cattle, slept in swags and learnt about sustainable farming.

It's all part of an educational program to give the students hands on experience in agriculture.

Yesterday the group visited the Calliope farm producing free range Silverdale Eggs.

The entire farm is focused on using animals to renew the land. It was the first time animal lover and school captain Jess Franklin had held a chicken. "They smell like cats when they are wet," Jess said. "It's pretty good to hold one but they are a bit loud."

Jess wants to run an agricultural business when she grows up. Her friend Sophie wants to be a vet nurse.

Both girls love animals and were excited to be on the trip, organised by Calliope cattle farmer Leo Neill-Ballantine.

For the past six years he has been bringing students from Brisbane to Calliope to learn from primary producers exactly what happens on the farm. "Not all of these kids will end up working in agriculture," Mr Neill-Ballantine said. "But now they will have a much better understanding of what we do out here on the land and that's a good thing for our whole community.

"It means when someone says farmers mistreat animals they will know that's not true because they have met producers who care about these animals' welfare." - HELEN SPELITIS

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