A lesson in paddock to plate

Mayrung Primary School students headed out in the field to watch rice being harvested and to learn what happens next.

A lesson in paddock to plate

Mayrung Primary School students headed out in the field to watch rice being harvested and to learn what happens next.

Community Participation -


The issue

Mayrung Public School is a small school of 25 students from kindergarten to year 6 located in the heart of the rice growing area of the Murray Valley between Deniliquin and Jerilderie. Despite being surrounded by rice farms, many of the students were unaware about how rice was grown, harvested, milled and processed into the products that they see on the supermarket shelves. A school parent and member of the Ricegrowers' Association of Australia (RGA) identified this challenge and saw the need for the students to visit a farm near the school that was growing rice to learn more about what was grown in their local environment and to learn about where their food comes from. A field visit to a rice farm showing rice being harvested was planned. 

The solution

In April a visit to a local farm harvesting rice opened the students’ eyes to what a rice plant looks like in the paddock and how the header harvests the rice. The rice farmer drove the header to the edge of the paddock and spoke to the children about how the rice is harvested and how it is augered from field bins into trucks to then be delivered into the rice mill.

Peter McDonnell from Sunrice talked to the students about the growth cycle of the rice plant and the students had a lot of fun running in the rice paddock and picking rice plants. They also learnt about the habitat that the  rice paddock provides throughout the growing season.

Back at school they learnt about what happens to the grain after it is delivered at the mill and the different stages of milling to create the rice and snacks that they see in the packets on the supermarket shelves. Peter had samples of rice at different stages of the milling process to show the students. From the removal of the husk, what the bran is used for and the different products that can be made with the whole grain and broken grains of rice. The students were fascinated that all those foods could be made from one tiny grain. The students were very engaged in the paddock and the classroom sessions. They asked lots of questions and were keen to touch and feel the rice plants and rice samples.

The impact

All the students and teachers at the Mayrung Public School came away from the day with a greater appreciation for where the rice and rice based foods that they eat come from. Mrs Eason the principle said “Our students here at Mayrung Public School are learning about food production in the area and how local farmers in the Deniliquin locality play an important part in the provision of food sources not only for Australia but internationally,”.  It is proposed that the paddock to plate education program will expand to showcase different agricultural enterprises that are grown on the farms around the school and the benefit that they give to the local community and the environment.  

Key facts

  • The combination of field visit and classroom time ensured that all students from kindergarten to year 6 were highly engaged in the program.
  • The paddock to plate program will continue to educate and engage the students by highlighting different agricultural production systems and the connection with the environment.
  • At the end of the session the students were very excited to go home and tell their families what they had learnt.

Project Partners