Wednesday November 26, 2014

Education a key for agriculture


So I recently headed out to a field near Yorkton to snap some pictures of young students taking part in the second annual ‘Pizza Farm’ initiative.

The idea is the brainchild of local agrologist’s Naomi Paley and Rachel Kraynick who got the wonderfully simple and ultimately very successful concept off the ground last spring. It is an idea I wrote of then, but this is such a great concept it warrants some added ink this year too.

The idea is one which helps connect young students more directly to the importance of agriculture in terms of food production.

I think everyone in agriculture today is keenly aware of the growing disconnect between the realities of farming, and how the agriculture sector is viewed by the growing urban population.

As generations pass, fewer and fewer urban dwellers have contact with a farm.

That is a trend which will only continue.

But it is important, if not critical, people continue to have an idea about where their food comes from.

This is not a new theme for my column, but it remains one the industry must work hard to ensure.

It is not a good thing if people believe milk comes from a carton, not recognizing a cow someplace is ultimately responsible for its production.

That is where the idea Paley and Kraynick had is such a good one.

For younger students pizza is usually a preferred food.

And within a pizza much of what farming supplies can be seen in miniature.

Milk and the dairy industry are integral to the cheese, grains to the flour, beef to the sausage, pigs to the bacon and so on.

The simple pizza in many ways encapsulates the variety of agricultural and food production into something even young students can relate to.

So taking the students to a field in spring to learn about crop planting, and then to return in fall to see the results, really is an experience which is likely to stick with many.

And that’s the idea.

Hopefully the students will talk about the field trip at home, and that will in turn interest their parents and siblings.

With access to the Internet so widespread it is easy for interested parents to expand on the field trip experience too.

Such an experience is a small one, but at least it helps young students start to think about their food in a different way.

And of course the Pizza Farm is not an isolated learning tool either.

Student education is an important aspect of events such as Grain Millers Harvest Showdown and Canadian Western Agribition in Regina.

Events like that give students who may never have set foot on a farm a chance to actually touch a cow and sheep and a pig. Such an experience truly does change a perspective of food.

And then there is the effort of Agriculture in the Classroom, a group dedicated to connecting what youth learn in school back to our agrarian base.

Each effort helps re-establish connections which once existed becoming farming was in everyone’s close family.

Today that is not the case, making the need to teach about where our food really comes from an increasingly important part of education.

The Pizza Farm and other efforts are certainly on the right track in that effort.

Calvin Daniels is Assistant Editor with Yorkton This Week.



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