REAPING THE REWARDS: Kingaroy State High School agriculture co-ordinator Sean Wicks, agriculture assistant Don Rutley and Noel James from Norco Rural Kingaroy with some of the school's produce.
REAPING THE REWARDS: Kingaroy State High School agriculture co-ordinator Sean Wicks, agriculture assistant Don Rutley and Noel James from Norco Rural Kingaroy with some of the school's produce. Claudia Williams

Schoolyard to restaurant plate: Community backs ag program

WHEN diners eat at Kingaroy RSL, Commercial Hotel, Glendon Street Cafe or Pioneer Lodge Motel they will enjoy vegetables grown by Kingaroy State High School students.

The school's latest haul of vegetables includes heads of broccoli weighing in at two kilograms, and massive sugarloaf cabbages.

It has been a true community effort - students work on the garden every day, aided by advice from Norco Rural Kingaroy.

Kingaroy State High School agriculture co-ordinator Sean Wicks and agriculture assistant Don Rutley are proud of the project, and their students.

"This is how it really works and they have seen it from the seed through to the finished product,” Mr Wicks said.

Mr Rutley has put in the hard yards since the start of the year and is impressed by the results.

"At the start of the growing season we had unseasonal heat and rabbits, so I had a lot of trouble getting the garden started because what the heat didn't burn off, the rabbits ate,” he said.

Broccoli grown at Kingaroy State High School.
Broccoli grown at Kingaroy State High School. Claudia Williams

It is Mr Rutley's final project after 18 months with the school, as his contract is coming to an end.

"We grew some good vegetables here last year but this has topped it off. I would love to be here and plant a spring crop but that isn't going to be,” he said.

"I like the satisfaction that I get out of it and I like being able to show the kids how it all works from womb to tomb, and I like the appreciation I get from those above me.”

This is the first year Norco Rural Kingaroy owner and agronomist Noel James has teamed up with the school to help improve the garden's nutrients, and the results are speaking for themselves.

"It was ordinary old dirt that has been boosted up by the use of compost but was travelling blind,” Mr James said.

"No one knew exactly what was in there ...

"We got the results from the lab and that gives them a fertiliser program they follow all the way through. Everything has thrived.”

Kingaroy State High School agriculture coordinator Shaun Wick with agriculture assistant Don Rutley and Noel James from Norco Rural Kingaroy with Kingaroy State High School's latest produce.
Kingaroy State High School agriculture co-ordinator Sean Wick, agriculture assistant Don Rutley and Noel James from Norco Rural Kingaroy with some of the school's fresh produce. Claudia Williams

The enthusiasm the students have shown, especially those with limited experience on farms, impressed Mr James.

"We are taking the town to the country for the people that are participating in this, and I think it's great and you can gauge it in the classroom by seeing the kids who are really enthused with what was going on,” he said.