Otago Polytechnic partners with Tinwald Farm to offer real-world learning

Don’t fence them in . . . Otago Polytechnic has partnered with Central Otago’s Tinwald Farm to deliver practical, hands-on experiences for Agriculture learners. 

Otago Polytechnic’s “High Country Farming” programme, delivered out of our Central Campus in Cromwell, offers two Level 3 Certificates in Agriculture: Farming Systems; and Vehicles, Machinery, Infrastructure.  

However, we recognise that farming courses cannot be effectively delivered solely in a classroom. Hence we recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Tinwald Farm, a 744 ha property located between Cromwell and Wanaka. 

Rising from the banks of the Clutha up to the foothills of the Mt Pisa Range, the farm runs a combination of sheep and beef; in addition, 20 hectares of Pinot Noir have been established. 

Our 2020 student intake will spend more than half of their time at Tinwald Farm, where they will be engaged in everyday farm tasks that enable them to not only meet academic requirements but, more importantly, gain the experiences and knowledge that will allow them to step into employment at the end of the year. 

“We are focused on increasing the opportunities for ‘land-based learning’,” says Kelly Gay, Head of College, Central Campus.  

“This means developing relationships with a number of farms and stations within the local farming community. It is vital to programme effectiveness as well as to student engagement and success.  

“Tinwald Farm, and its staff, offer students plenty of scope and opportunities with livestock, technology and practices that are at the leading edge of where the agriculture industry is heading. 

“The farm provides the students with a unique learning experience.  Tinwald Farm has a willingness to explore new practices. This includes good stewardship of land and resources, as well as looking at new or different breeds that not only increase farm productivity but also improve product quality beyond the gate.” 

Tinwald Farm owners Amanda and Adrian Currie are excited by the opportunity to share their philosophy of producing natural high-quality food using the latest technology and tools, while keeping traditional values at their core of their operations 

“Agriculture, like many industries, is facing many challenges,” Amanda says 

“The production of high-quality food is as important as it ever was, but equally important is the protection of the environment. Our industry will face increasing challenges over the coming years. We believe we must do our part to explore and address these concerns.” 

As employers we know how important it is to be able to attract and retain people into our industry.  

“We’re interested in showing students how farming is changing and responding to the issues that we all face. The future for farming will demand innovation,” Amanda says 

“We also want to contribute to our local community. 

“For us, working with Otago Polytechnic to provide a practical and positive on-farm learning experience for students, is a perfect fit.  

“We hope that the learning experiences students obtain at Tinwald Farm will be positive ones and will help them to pursue a fulfilling career. 

Read more about our Farming programmes 

Read the Otago Daily Times article