Centred in a large farming region, Taree High School established agricultural studies as part of its curriculum in 1941. Initially the subject was for male students who would study crop production and farm work on a scientific basis.1 The first cohort of students numbered at a disappointing ten and an education campaign was launched to inform the community of the advantages of studying agriculture.2 The Department of Education leased several acres of land from the Taree Municipal Council at the now  Bicentennial Gardens to assist students with the practical application of their studies.3
Teacher Ern Harvey arrived in 1947 and brought much needed enthusiasm to the subject. His preference was to have a large working farm established on the NSW North Coast that gave students a realistic idea of farming, however he put the school plot to good use.4 Students planted and harvested potato crops which yielded four tons in the first year.5 They also planted trees around the sports field, grew roses and tended to the lawns.6
During the 1960s the farm was reinvigorated with teacher R S ‘Bob’ Ruming conducting his practical classes there. He had to deal with regular flood events in 1962, ‘63 and ‘67 destroying his and his students’ labours. Teachers Ian Richardson and Peter Tait used the research of nationally recognised local agronomist Terry Launders to conduct trials with students comparing rye and clover crops for farmers to use.7 Female students were also encouraged to study agriculture at this time and several young women took up the subject.8
In 1976 the school farm closed and relocated to the end of Cornwall Street north, near Taree Railway Station and the old school farm was transformed into the Bicentennial Gardens in 1988.9
Author: Janine Roberts
1 Manning River Times, 7 December 1940, 2.
2 Northern Champion, 5 April 1941, 3.
3 MRT, 7 December 1940, 2.
4 Northern Champion, 4 June 1947, 4.
5 NC, 20 December 1947, 5.
6 NC, 18 December 1948, 6.
8 Notes from former teacher Ian Richardson, 2023.
9 Notes from former teacher Ian Richardson, 2023; Torch Magazine, 1975, p 32.