One clever kid’s recipe for drought relief
ACROSS drought-stricken NSW there are remarkable tales of community strength in the toughest of times and no one embodies that more than young Harry Chase and his classmates at Tottenham Central School.
They came up with the "Best Cookbook Ever. Probably", a collections of recipes, to raise money for their school in central NSW.
Harry designed the cover and students, parents and friends contributed beloved country recipes to the cookbook, which is sold for $12 to raise money.
Copies were also given to donors who have supported the small school in the middle of the drought.
The Year 5 student not only designed the book's cover, he also contributed a recipe called Harry's Snickerdoodle Biscuits.
"I like the biscuits because they're easy to make and it's all normal ingredients you have at home," he said.
Harry lives on a farm and has seen first-hand the impact the prolonged drought.
"It's been really tough," he said. "We've been working hard. My dad used to come home early to play with us after school and now he can't anymore because he has to work at the moment."
Classmate Nathan Klante, 8, said he has also noticed the difference at home, where a lack of water prevents his parents from producing crops for feed.
"I think I don't do very much but I try to help," he said.
Tottenham principal Amanda Thorpe aims to keep school as "normal as possible" for the 85 children in her care.
Primary students at Strathfield North Public School in Sydney last year raised more than $14,000 for Tottenham, which will be used to subsidise excursions and buy stationery.
The plights of the state's farmers is being heard nearly 500km away in Sydney where primary schools are preparing for a mufti day on May 8 to raise money for farmers.
Pupils at Crestwood Public School in Baulkham Hills are participating and will write to farmers they adopt to learn more about what it is like to battle drought. Pupil Mia Rowe, 11, said it was important to raise money for our farmers as we relied on them to bring food to the table.
SPARKING NEW HOPE IN POWER PACKAGE
Struggling farming families will have their electricity debts cut and save on power under a $2 million drought assistance package unveiled by AGL.
The national energy retailer committed to the program following The Daily Telegraph's Adopt A Farmer campaign, which has called on communities and businesses to dig deep and support the nation's farmers and rural communities.
The $2 million Farmers Assist package will help farmers cut debt and not just go solar but be able to earn money by embracing the sunny dry spell and sell power back into the grid from their solar panels.
The assistance package will roll out in June to eligible customers and the money was redirected from a small and medium business fund.
The program will provide debt relief to eligible customers and also subsidised solar energy systems to farmers in need in Queensland, NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.
The package will also include subsidised power purchase agreements for farms with solar systems supplying energy into the grid.
AGL chief customer officer Mark Enzinger said the company recognised energy companies can play a role in helping rural families.
"When farmers struggle, cash dries up in the rural towns and the impact on families can be heartbreaking," he said.
"From the middle of next month, we will start identifying accounts we can offer some debt relief.
"We'll also be supporting farmers to install solar installations, to offset their bills and earn from supplying energy to the grid."
Mr Enzinger said AGL recognised "much more" needed to be done to help rural residents.
"In the cities, it can be easy to forget that, even in good times, living on the land can be tough," he said.
"We commend The Daily Telegraph on its commitment to the rural community. This campaign will help by raising money but also, by shining a light on the scale of the problem, it will raise awareness in the cities and towns."
As part of the campaign on May 8, there will be an Adopt A Farmer gold coin mufti day in schools across NSW.
Charity Rural Aid will collect funds and will send $100 on Visa gift cards to thousands of farmers already registered through their successful Buy A Bale campaign.
AGL and NAB have donated $100,000 each to start the fundraising effort, which is designed to inject some money back into local economies and to give farmers, adopted by the state's children, a small reprieve from the financial pressures they face.
Daily Telegraph editor Ben English told 2GB's Alan Jones the Adopt A Farmer campaign, which launched in NSW, Victoria and Queensland yesterday, would not "fix all the problems" but would show farmers that "we're thinking of them."
"(The drought) has been going on for so long that sometimes you can become desensitised to it if you're not out there and amongst it," he said.
- Clare Armstrong