Glimpse into farm life shared with city students

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The sights and sounds of farm life were shared with dozens of classrooms of Swift Current students during the Swift Current Ag and Ex's Discover The Farm agricultural program on April 10 and 11.

Students were able to see a variety of farm animals, learn farm facts, and explore a series of hands on displays during the two days educational opportunity.

Swift Current Ag and Ex Event Development Coordinator Lenora Bells said this event is an important glimpse into farm life and how food gets to the kitchen table.

"We wanted to work on their understanding of where their food comes from basically. What does a rancher do? What does a farmer do? How do you prepare food to get to the table?" Bells explained. "And then we decided to include with it a safety component, so we talk about things like how to be safe on the farm, how to be safe around animals, and how to be safe around equipment."

Students also got a chance to see their popular Egg and Ex School Hatching Program which has already appeared in classrooms across the region.

"It's such an easy thing to take into the classroom. It runs on its own. You plug it in and the computer takes care of it. And after 16 to 21 days these chicks come out of the eggs, and the students actually see it happening - where a chicken comes from," she added.

Darren Mack, who is a presenter with the UFA Cattle College educational session team, conducted a number of presentations on calving.

"One reason why it's so important is a lot of the kids nowadays are coming from the city, they don't know where their food comes from. They think it's all from the grocery store. So we're here to try and show them where it really starts - the farmer, producer, rancher - they work long, hard hours to get that beef to the farm gate," Mack said.

As part of their education for the students, they gave a demonstration on calf birthing and branding.

"We're getting a lot of the 'ooooh' factor now, and that's really sticking in the kids minds," he said of the calving demonstration.

Deb Haupstein, Provincial Dairy Specialist from Sask Milk, showed off a milking station and provided details on dairy cattle breeds. She said Discover The Farm is important in bridging the gap for children who no longer have a connection to the farm.

"I think the importance is to make them aware that the carton is the last step, rather than the first step in production. We'd like them to know that it's the cows they see out there that are responsible for the milk, not the carton at the store," Haupstein said.

"Whether it's beef or whether it's milk, no they don't have a clue. And we're getting further and further away. Now, some of them don't even have grandparents out on the farm."

Barb Thick, an Agrologist who also runs a mixed farming operation west of Swift Current, brought a pig, pony, goats, plus a laying hen to show the diversity of animals on the farm.

"Kids are very familiar with ponies, but I talked a little bit about what they were used to be used for on the farm - they used to be the tractors.

"They take it all in. They love learning. And of course every kid likes animals."

Thick also agreed the importance of the event was helping give students a better understanding of rural life.

overall importance.

"It's just a part of the world around us. It's kind of sad that kids are really getting away from that and not able to see where their food is coming from. It's a huge problem I think right now, so we're starting to recognize that and do things like this event and educate the kids about farm animals."

"We're busy working on the farm too, so there's a lot of kids from the farm that know things, but they don't know a lot of the interesting facts. As parents we just don't have time to really teach our kids the whole aspect about what other people are doing and why other people have goats and pigs and sheep. So it's interesting, they still learn something."

Brenda Epp from Prairie Field Honey, who also participated in Saturday's Poultry and Exotic Animal Sale, said more people are developing an appreciation of food grown across the Southwest.

"I think people are more and more interested in buying food that is locally grown," Epp said.

Epp, who works as a public health nurse, said it was sobering to learn during a pandemic planning session that if large food trucks stopped running there is only a one week supply of food in Saskatchewan's large cities.

"Here, at least a lot of us, we can grow our own food. We can plant a garden. Personally for our family we buy all our meat from local farmers, we don't buy it from the grocery store any more. In the summer time we buy produce from the Hutterite Colonies because they have fantastic gardens. So we're just trying to eat food that we know where it comes from, and support our local farmers here."

"These are just a few short miles out of town. All of this is right here. It's crazy to be buying garlic from China in our stores."

Organizations: Swift Current Ag and Ex

Geographic location: Swift Current, Saskatchewan

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