The initiative was started by our dedicated Outdoor Educator, Janine Hooley, who has over 10 years’ experience working on cattle farms, dairy’s, and even zoo keeping.
Janine is passionate about the environment, conservation and the wellbeing of our Australian Wildlife, and has a strong desire to help Farmers in drought affected areas across NSW. One day, she came across a message from a struggling Farming family in Gunnedah, NSW. A Farmer named Heidi had received a shoebox of donations on her doorstep, and posted on a community social media page to thank members of the public for their assistance.
Janine was overwhelmed by the community’s kindness, and Heidi’s gratitude and appreciation for such a small gesture. She contacted Heidi straight away to ask how she could help.
“Janine was so touched by Heidi’s story that she talked to the children at Follyfoot about how we could help our Farmers”
Through talking with Heidi, Janine came to realise just how tough Farmers are doing it in these drought-stricken areas. Heidi told her of times she would send her children to school with a bag full of empty bottles, so the children could fill them with fresh drinking water from the school and bring them home.
Janine was so touched by Heidi’s story that she and her team of Educators at Follyfoot Farm decided to talk to the children about how we could help struggling Farmers. We set a goal for Follyfoot Farm to fill one small box trailer with donations of stock feed, dog feed, groceries and drinking water to be transported to Heidi’s family in Gunnedah. Little did we know, we would fill a whole semi-trailer by the end of the project!
The Follyfoot Farm Drought Assistance Run
As a Service, we put up posters in the foyer with a large donation box for Families to donate any of the above items. The children visited the foyer each morning to see what had been donated by the Families in the early childhood community. When the box was full, they would help our Educators pack the donations away into cardboard boxes ready to be transported.
The children were so excited about the donations that they asked if they could draw pictures for the Farming Families, both on paper and directly onto the boxes of donations being sent away. They joyfully created detailed pictures of houses, families, pets and cows on farms.
In the classroom, we did science experiments with the children to investigate the properties of precipitation. Our Educators planted grass seeds into 3 different garden pots and gave them varying levels of water to observe the differences in the growth of the grass. This gave the children a visual representation of what is happening on the Farmers’ drought-stricken properties and just how important the rain is to help the grass grow.
The Educators were so proud of the compassion and empathy the children on Follyfoot Farm were showing towards the struggling Farmers.
One morning, Janine was alerted to a local radio station who were discussing the various drought relief programs assisting our Farmers throughout NSW. She immediately jumped on the phone and shared with the Central Coast community that Follyfoot Farm was collecting donated items to be transported to a struggling Farming family in Gunnedah.
When she arrived to work that morning, she had a message to return a call from G&D transport. A man named Garry from G&D called her to express that they too wanted to help, and offered Follyfoot Farm the use of their truck to transport the donations to Gunnedah. When Janine asked him to confirm the size of the truck, Garry laughed and said “Sweetheart, it’s a semi-trailer.”
From this point, Janine made it her mission to fill the semi-trailer with donations. She started a campaign called the “Follyfoot Farm Drought Assistance Run” and gained support from other local pre-schools, along with 7 local Coles supermarkets who placed donation trolleys in front of their supermarkets, plastered with our donation signs. The response from the community was overwhelming!
“There were so many community donations that we needed a bigger truck!”
Follyfoot Farm was soon transformed into a distribution hub for a total of 20 pallets of stock feed, dog food, groceries and water. We also received over $2,500 in cash donations which we used to purchase an additional 4 pallets of Hay. We received so many donations that, on the morning that the truck was departing from Follyfoot Farm to Gunnedah, we had to upgrade the 42ft semi-trailer to a larger 45ft truck!
Reflecting back on this experience, we are so grateful for the community’s awesome response to this project. The children of Follyfoot Farm have not only grown an appreciation for land care and the importance of food production from paddock to plate, but they have witnessed first-hand how we as individuals can make a difference to the lives of others.
The children’s perspective and excitement for rain has now shifted from jumping in puddles, to the importance of rain for our environment and for our Farmers.