AGRI Aware’s ‘Family Farm’ in Dublin Zoo was one of the key stops for a group of delegates from Montenegro on their recent visit to Ireland.
The delegation, who were visiting via the Luxembourg Agency for Development Co-operation, included senior personnel from the Ministry of Education and Sport and the Centre for Vocational Education, Directors of Vocational Schools and members of the Sectoral Commissions for Tourism and Agriculture. The group were in Ireland to observe educational direction in our agriculture and tourism sectors.
Ireland was selected because, similar to Montenegro, agriculture is one of the key drivers of the economy. Therefore, the challenges facing Montenegro as it endeavours to grow this sector are well understood.
As Agri Aware communicates with primary schools, secondary schools and the general public on the importance of farming and food, the Montenegrin delegates were keen to understand how the organisation worked.
Agri Aware’s ‘Family Farm’ in Dublin Zoo was the key location to demonstrate the advances that have been made in Irish agricultural education in recent years. With nearly one million visitors passing through Dublin Zoo each year, ‘Family Farm’ has become the ideal venue to inform the general public on the importance of the farming and agri food industry in Ireland.
It may be Ireland’s smallest farm, but this acre of fun represents an island of farming and delegates were impressed by the milking parlour, the farmhouse classroom where school tours are conducted, as well as the interactive life sized model cow that children can milk themselves, just one of the fixtures on the farm that promotes active learning.
The delegates were also informed about the work that Agri Aware does with schools, including the massive fruit and vegetable growing initiative, the ‘Incredible Edibles’, the secondary school agricultural innovation challenge, ‘Green Dragon’ and ‘Food Routes,’ a useful resource which details every agricultural college course in the country where students can progress their studies.
Bernard Donohue, Agri Aware Chairman commented, “We were delighted to welcome the delegates from Montenegro to our country and our farm in Dublin Zoo. It was encouraging that these high profile individuals were so impressed by the work of Agri Aware. We hope our organisation has inspired the Montenegrins on the opportunities available to them, to further promote their agricultural industry.”
Dr Vanessa Woods remarked, “I was delighted to greet these key delegates from Montenegro during my first few weeks as Executive Director of Agri Aware. Irish farmers are well recognised internationally for the excellent work that they do in delivering safe, traceable and wholesome food and for being key contributors to the Irish economy. Developing and sustaining key linkages with international groups such as our Montenegrin colleagues is a new angle that I will drive forward in Agri Aware. To see such enthusiasm for the work of Agri Aware and to bring home the good news about Irish agriculture to Montenegro is very inspiring”.
The group was accompanied to Ireland by Mr Tony Donovan, Chief Technical Adviser and Ms Patricia Reid, Senior Technical Adviser with Project MNE/ Strengthening Vocational Training in NE Montenegro.
Mr Donovan, who is originally from Co Kerry stated, “The Agri Aware visit was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. The organisation’s work really struck a chord with the group as everyone came away from Ireland with a sense of the work that could be done to raise the profile of the agriculture sector here in Montenegro.”