Cowaramup youngsters visit Grace Farm

The annual Cowaramup Primary School excursion to Grace Farm was another great day out and a special opportunity to open the property to the community. The biological diversity in the forest and creek system, which surrounds and dissects the vineyard, offers a unique outdoor experience for the Year 3 science class.

The day begins with a trip to the creek where the excited kids scoop the surface of the water with fine nets looking for aquatic fauna in the shallows. Their interest grows as the nets reveal the types of organisms which inhabit healthy water ways. The presence of tadpoles, insect larvae and juvenile marron reveal a world beyond the muddy banks. With clipboards and pencils in hand our budding scientists record their observations for the classroom.

Leaving the creek we journey to a special habitat full of trigger plants, ground hugging orchids and clumps of grass trees. This sandy site is home to a unique predator, the New Holland sandplain scorpion which lives in cryptic burrows beneath the surface. Small plastic cups, dug in below the burrow entrances make perfect pit traps as the scorpions emerge at night to search for prey. This part of the day is always a highlight when the kids get to see a creature that first appeared 200 million years before the dinosaurs. What a day out!

Finally, the excursion moves from ecology to agriculture as we emerge from the sandplain vegetation and walk into the vineyard. The clipboards appear again as the kids explore the vineyard floor and learn about wine grape growing. A number of students proudly announce that their parents work in vineyards as they share their knowledge of trellis and tractors.

Once again it was a pleasure to host the Cowaramup Primary School at Grace Farm and we look forward to the next instalment.

Words by Tim Quinlan, Viticulturist

We received a wonderful email from Tracey Muir, the Education Officer for the Cape to Cape Catchments Group that we'd like to share:
I would just like to say a huge thank you for hosting the Cowaramup students on Monday. They had a fabulous time and learnt so much from the experience.
The sampling was a valuable scientific experience, where we could compare results from last year and note that there had been a significant change (a lowering of the water levels). It was also great for students to hear about the vineyard and gain an insight into such a vital local industry. They (and parents) were impressed to hear about the lengths you have gone to, to also care for the local environment.
The highlight of the whole day was Tim catching scorpions for students, they were ecstatic! He really is a very engaging presenter who had students enthralled with his information. A huge thank you to him.
Thank you so much for providing an invaluable experience for students.