When I was a child, we lived just on the outskirts of Montreal. Back then, to me Ottawa was considered small town and “countryside”. Don’t laugh! 🙂 I didn’t have any experience being in a rural setting at all. Obviously, Ottawa is not “countryside”. It’s quaint and unique, but certainly not “small town”. I know because now I live in a small rural Northern Ontario community.
I think I was in grade 2 when my class and teacher spent a week at La Ferme d’André in Ormstown, Quebec. We spent a week waking up early, going to the barn, milking cows, riding horses, and playing with barn kittens and swinging from the rafters in “la grange à Tarzan” (Tarzan’s barn). It was a great experience (my first week away from home!) and an educational one too! Though I was only in grade 2, I remember it like it was yesterday! What a truly amazing experience for city kids like us!
Now, I live on a farm.
I was just thinking of how so many young children do not really know about where their food comes from or what it takes to grow their food. So many are not connected to the farmers who work tirelessly every day to supply their product, meat, milk, or grain. Food is something your parents buy at the grocery store. That’s how I was before I spent a week on the farm when I was in grade 2!
Today, our 3.5 year old daughter knows about first and second cut, round and square baling, and the difference between cows, heifers, steers, bulls, etc. She leaves, breathes, and sleeps farm life and everything connected to the land and the animals. It’s not just on our farm that she gets her agri-cation from. We’ve been taking her all over Ontario for the Outdoor Farm Show, Ploughing Match, and other Agricultural events ever since she was a newborn!
The farm’s open fields and lush pasture land take us back in time. To me, I feel a sense of peace and calmness whenever I see the wide open space. It’s just breathtaking.
To little ones, I’m sure they’re curious about all the animals, the huge machinery, and the big barns! It’s a great idea to take the opportunity to educate our children about agriculture. Kids can learn about what farmers do on those big machines and how the plants in the fields become food on their plates.
Farmers Feed Cities has some great ways to agri-cate our children! Here are 5 of them:
- Take a trip to the farm – give your kids the opportunity to come face to face with the farmers, animals, crops, and machinery (always keeping safety in mind) to give them a tangible setting to begin their agri-cation. To find a farm near you, click here.
- Take it one step at a time – farming and agriculture are big concepts for kids. Start at the beginning and grow their knowledge slowly. Ex: Explain the difference between crop and livestock farming. Explain that many farmers do both. For example, grow corn in the field and have pigs in the barn. You can discuss the crop cycle in Ontario – most plants are planted in the Spring and ready to harvest in the Fall (in time for Thanksgiving)! You can even explain how the weather impacts crops.
- Make a game of it – games are a fun and interactive way to learn about sometimes difficult to grasp concepts. Some online games – (Easy) Dora’s Magical Garden and Agri-Trekking Across Ontario. (Medium) Agri-Trekking Across Ontario and Fact or Fairytale. (Hard) Where’s Agriculture? and World Pizza.
- Foster curiosity – once children have a better understanding of agriculture, take a trip back to the farm or through the countryside and ask questions to gauge their knowledge of farming. Test their knowledge online with farms, food, and fun quizzes here.
- Put the lessons to use – continue the agri-cation at the grocery store! Explain to your youngsters why you’re choosing products with an ‘Ontario’ or ‘Canada’ sticker on them. Make a game of it and see who can find the local items first!
If you’d like more information on Farmers Feed Cities, check out them out at www.farmersfeedcities.com, on Twitter @FarmersFeedCities #FreshFromTheField and on Facebook www.facebook.com/FarmersFeedCities.