RNA launches school cheesemaking pilot

Queensland teachers Dagmar Ryan (Maleny-SHS) and Caroline Lawson (Benarkin-SS) with Russell Smith. Photo courtesy of the RNA

It is exciting to be involved in the food revolution that has been sweeping Australia for some time. The awareness, interest, understanding and participation of Australians in our evolving food culture is evident in the number and diversity of ‘eateries’, food publications, popularity of T.V. programmes with a food focus and the ever widening retail availability and choices.

In February this year I ran the second in a series of cheese making workshops for science teachers in Queensland, fostering the next generations knowledge and appreciation of the food we eat.

The venue was the Royal National Association (RNA) showground in Brisbane, with teachers coming from as far away as schools in Mackay.

The program started last year and is run by the RNA with the students cheeses being judged as part of the Royal Queensland Cheese & Dairy Show.

The response to the program has been enthusiastic. In it’s first year we judged 94 camembert cheeses from 10 schools and this year the number judged is likely to be around 200. A total of 40 teachers from 24 schools attended this year’s workshops with 13 schools on the waiting list.

By popular demand this year also saw the introduction of a blue cheese making workshop attended by those teachers who made camembert in 2010.

This innovative program, a first for Australia, has been so engaging for the teachers, students and  organizations involved that I have now been asked by Dairy Australia to run a pilot program in Victoria and NSW this year with the intention of an Australia wide roll out over the next few years.

This is a win/win for everybody, the importance and quality of dairy farmers’ practices is appreciated, helping to strengthen the bridge between our rural and suburban communities. The skill involved in the creation of the final product is recognized, opening students eyes to career possibilities. The marketing people of course are happy to expose a whole new generation of consumers to the benefits of Australian dairy products.

And the excitement shown by the students as they learn about cheese is so rewarding to watch.

(See our edit of the ABC  Landline video of a typical cheese making class).

Teachers Jill Allen (Trinity College) and Caroline Lawson at RNA class. Photo courtesy of the RNA


Russell Smith talks about fostering the next generation’s knowledge and appreciation of the food we eat, through the pilot programme cheese workshops in schools.


  1. Could you possible let me have a photo of your RNA cheese class for teachers? I have just completed a book, HOME DAIRY to be published this year and the publisher, Hyland House, Melbourne would love to illustrate the point I make in the book about cheese making being a good school subject. I would be most grateful and of course, would acknowledge the source. Hoping to hear from you, Ann

  2. I’ve passed your request on to the RNA Anne, they’ll have lots of suitable images. Good luck with the book, would love to see a copy when it’s published.