Day 10 started with boarding the bus for an hour trip to an Ag School in Venado Tuerto (One Eyed Deer). The name of the school was Escuela Agricola and it was a private school with students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 established in 1968. The school sits on 120 hectares of land in the Santa Fe region of Argentina. In 1994, the education system was reformed and the school transformed itself to devote and encourage their students an aptitude to preserve and protect the environment.
When we arrived, it was surprising to meet three students in the senior grades - Lucia, Thomas and Camilla. These three young people had taken time away from their last week of summer vacation to talk about their school, in very good English. There are 800 students attending the school with 120 teachers teaching them. It is a private school that families pay for their children to attend. For us, the really interesting aspect of the school is the practical agriculture education the students get every day.
We jumped on a hay wagon to take a tour of the schools facilities. Obviously there were the regular boring classrooms but the students also had practical classrooms - a dairy barn, chicken barn, laboratory, fields with corn and soybeans and lots of equipment to use. Students attend the school because they are offered a choice by their parents and they would rather have the opportunity to learn outside as opposed to being in a classroom all the time. Students in their senior years have the opportunity for hands on practical learning such as learning to milk a dairy herd, how to butcher and cut the different animals that had been raised at the school, repair equipment and grow and harvest crops. The kids will have very practical skills for the next step in their lives which is usually university or the work force. The classroom model combined with practical hands-on learning has proven to be a winning combination for the school’s graduates and current students. Many in Class 15 talked about ways to have an exchange program with schools in Ontario.
What an exciting opportunity!
Back on the bus, we drove approximately 30 km to La Constancia Farm - a farm established in 1911. Roberto Gallo gave us an introduction of the farm and talked about his farm. Currently there are four generations living on the farm and soon to be five. The farm raises a small pedigree herd of sheep and other small animals as well as crops a few hectares of corn and soybeans. They also provide custom application of fertilizer and herbicides for the neighbours.
One of the other activities on the farm is playing host to weddings and other functions. The property provided a beautiful setting for a wedding. Weddings often ran through the night and there are many nights where the wedding party and guests all jump into the pool!
We had a short introduction and tour of the farm before our lunch and were then served in the shade, much like a wedding would have been served. Once again we were given a tasty lunch, made and served by our hosts - empanades, salad and lamb cooked over a spit. And of course, we had the option of some red wine with lunch as well.
With lunch finished, we had some more time to walk the property, some exploring the small museum and others just walking the lovely homestead. There might even have been a few who jumped the fence to check out the fields of corn and soybeans.
We left La Constancia and travelled the half hour back to the hotel. Our guide, Jorge, had arranged a last minute tour of a small horse farm for those who would like to go and check it out. After a quick dip in the pool to cool off, about 15 of us jumped back on the bus to go and look at a small horse operation. Roberto, a veterinarian student, came on our bus to take us to the farm.
The farm was only 15 minutes from our hotel. The bus may have incurred a scar trying to turn into the horse farm. It’s a good thing that the fence post was only three feet tall… otherwise, we might have been putting our window fixing experience to work again! Juan is a helper and Juan’s daughter and he talked with us about his horse operation. Juan, who is also a veterinarian, apologized for not having more to show us but he put on a great show for us - including how these horses were bred to be strong and have lots of stamina for ranching and herding cattle. We were given a demonstration of this in the small corral. What a great last minute addition to the day!
Roberto wanted to take us to his farm to show it to us as well but the bus was unable to make the narrow turn into Roberto’s farm and we had to back up and turn the bus around and headed back to the hotel for another swim.