Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Agri-cating Our Kids #FreshFromTheField

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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, on Twitter @FarmersFeedCities #FreshFromTheField and on Facebook


Fab Frugal Mama said...

Great post! I just attended a Farmers Feed Cities event and learned a lot. I'm so lucky to have a working farm in my large, urban centre, so my kids have access to farm animals, vegetable gardens, etc. all year round. I might still need a lesson to teach me what a first cut and second cut are, though! Your daughter should do an instructional Youtube video. :)

Christine said...

I think I know just which farm you're talking about! :) I used to live about a 20 min drive from there!

I have an idea! Why don't you bring your family to our farm!?! :) Come visit us! xo

The Zoo said...

Growing up, I spent weekends on our farm, feeding the pigs, cows and horses. I knew how lucky I was to have a pony.

During the month of August, we will be heading up to the "Family Farm Compound" (North of Toronto) like we do every summer. Over 450 acres for The entire Zoo to roam. I am so happy that my kids get to experience that.

Thanks for sharing.

Besos, Sarah
Zookeeper at Journeys of The Zoo

Brandi Yee said...

Understanding farms and food is so important for children and what better way than visiting a farm! I love farms and actually need to take my kids to one around here soon! :)

Torviewtoronto said...

lovely post it is very important for to teach our kids these things :)

Christine said...

The Zoo:
You had a pony!?!? Lucky girl! Hubby had a pony too. I asked if we could get one for our daughter because she love riding (she goes riding at a nearby ranch). Hubs said NO! Said they're a bunch of "hay burners"! LOL! I'm going to have to write a post of farmer-isms!

Christine said...

You can always visit ours! LOL! It's a bit of a drive from where you are, but if you make a vacay out of it, it'll be worth it! lol

Christine said...

Thank you :) I think it's very important too :) Or else children will be like me and think all cows are cows (only female bovines are actually 'cows'...males are bulls!) or they'll grow up like me and think places like Kingston and Ottawa are the countryside! LOL! I know...crazy!

Katrina Brady said...

Great post and wonderful idea! Everyone..not just kids, should understand our food. Perhaps there would be a little more respect for it.

Katrina Brady said...

Great post and wonderful idea! Everyone..not just kids, should understand our food. Perhaps there would be a little more respect for it.

Christine said...

AMEN, sister!!! So true! Having been on both ends (city/farmer and consumer/producer), I know all about the little respect for those who grow and provide food.

NPC said...

We have lots of farm land in Windsor and the counties. We go to the farms frequently. I would love to live on a farm, it must be really amazing to grow your own food. :D

Chris said...

We're lucky enough to have a farmer in the family, so the kids get the real experience all the time. My wife does all sorts of cool day care themes for her kids too! They love farm week.

Tammy @ In R Dream said...

Great post! As always I just love reading your articles. I am a country girl & our children know where there food comes from. We garden and visit farms, it's a must in our R life to teach our children as much about life as we can! Farming is at the top of the list!

Asianmommy said...

Wow--I'm impressed your little one knows so much about farming. We could use a trip to the farm!

Nolie said...

Those are some great ideas to teach our kids about farming.

Jorja Carington said...

I am also pro for teaching kids how to farm. This will help them teach a lot of things that they may use in the future once they grow up.

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City girl moves to the country, falls in love, and marries a farmer. She tries to incorporate her city ways with her new country lifestyle and blogs to keep in touch with friends, family & students who live far, far away :) Can this city girl go country? Watch as she learns all sorts of exciting things about life on the farm and in a small rural community. *UPDATE* We are now parents! Our baby girl was born on Nov. 11, 2008 (at 28 weeks gestation- 12 weeks premature, but she's quite the trooper)!!!
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