Teachers become the students

University of Otago agricultural innovation programme director Craig Bunt and Agribusiness in...
University of Otago agricultural innovation programme director Craig Bunt and Agribusiness in Schools adviser Melanie Simmons display a block of hemp-based nut bar made on campus as part of the Agribusiness in Schools national conference in Dunedin last week. PHOTOS: SHAWN MCAVINUE
Agribusiness teachers became the students at a national conference in Dunedin last week.

Agribusiness in Schools adviser Melanie Simmons, of Hamilton, said 33 secondary school teachers, from schools between Auckland and Winton, attended the conference.

The two-day conference is held every two years.

Teacher Emily Talbot (left), of Methven, and University of Otago student Amellia Lindsay, of...
Teacher Emily Talbot (left), of Methven, and University of Otago student Amellia Lindsay, of Waimate, taste hemp milk they made.
More than 130 teachers taught agribusiness in 111 schools in New Zealand last year, including 19 in the South, Miss Simmons said.

Of those schools, 65% were urban and 35% were rural.

She praised John McGlashan College for hosting the conference and thanked University of Otago staff for their support.

Emptying a grinder to make hemp-based nut bar are (from left) teachers John McPhail, of...
Emptying a grinder to make hemp-based nut bar are (from left) teachers John McPhail, of Christchurch, Liz Murray, of Tapanui, Kirsten McIntyre, of Crookston.
"They are really enthusiastic to help teachers and upskill them."

Conference highlights included the keynote address "The Future of Food — Challenges and Opportunities", by University of Otago food science department head Miranda Mirosa, a workshop on "Carbon and the Red Meat Industry", by Dunedin chef Greg Piner and a field trip to the University of Otago campus for delegates to make hemp milk and using the leftover product to make a hemp-based nut bar.

University of Otago agricultural innovation programme director Craig Bunt, of Dunedin, lead the workshop to make the hemp products.

Making hemp milk in Dunedin are (from left) teachers Kirsten Dixon, of Cromwell, Dallas Pahiri,...
Making hemp milk in Dunedin are (from left) teachers Kirsten Dixon, of Cromwell, Dallas Pahiri, of Masterton, Emma Ewan, of Cromwell and Aaron Gyles, of Christchurch.
Dr Bunt said growing hemp had some "tight and frustrating" regulations in New Zealand.

The regulations include the need for a licence to grow hemp and a limit on the varieties allowed to be grown.

Challenges for developing the hemp industry in New Zealand include access to seed.

Hemp could be consumed by humans, but not livestock in New Zealand due to some export markets refusing agricultural products fed hemp, such as the United States.

Tasting hemp milk are (from left) Ministry of Education National Certificate of Educational...
Tasting hemp milk are (from left) Ministry of Education National Certificate of Educational Achievement implementation manager facilitator Rachel Chisnall, of Dunedin, teachers John Hanning, of Oamaru, Peter McCall, of Dunedin, and James List, of Ashburton.
"We always meet the requirements of our most fussy customer, which is sound business," Dr Bunt said.

Consequently, after a hemp crop was harvested in New Zealand, livestock could not be put on paddocks to graze the stubble.

Farmers would need to plough the stubble in and plant another crop, he said.

When compared to other crops, hemp had a greater drought tolerance and required fewer inputs, such as fertiliser.

Producing hemp milk in Dunedin are (from left) L. A. Alexander Trust adviser Ross Redpath, of...
Producing hemp milk in Dunedin are (from left) L. A. Alexander Trust adviser Ross Redpath, of Inglewood and teachers Will Byars, of Gore and Roy Gawn, of Wānaka.
"It is much more sustainable and good for soil health."

Hemp was a rich source of protein and was low in fat, he said.

"They are a good, all-round food and a lot of fun." 

shawn.mcavinue@alliedpress.co.nz