How do you promote agriculture?

Loved these nice signs at the farm gate that welcomed us!

Open Farm Day was held in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Manitoba on Sunday. In the Maritimes, the sun was shining, the skies were blue and the breeze was brisk. It was a perfect day for a trip to the farm.

Even though I write about agriculture, I don’t live on a farm and I don’t have any relatives close by who farm. I try to make my kids aware about where their food comes from, but it’s a constant discussion, isn’t it? There isn’t a lot of ag education going on in my kids’ school, so Open Farm Day is a great chance for a bit of education, mixed in with a lot of fun.

Each of the farms had lots of great promotional material about agriculture — word searches, colouring books, fact sheets. My daughter scooped up all of the information she could find and talked about sharing it with some of her friends. I think next year, my husband and I will each take a carload of kids and their friends and head out to area farms during Open Farm Day.

So what do you do to educate the kids you know about food? What do you do to educate their friends?

In areas of the world where agriculture is more prominent, it may be easier to get in touch with farming. But agriculture in Atlantic Canada is small (but strong!). It takes a bit more effort to get our kids to link to their food.

That’s where the parents and the community come in to help. Whether it’s a community garden at the school, inviting a farmer in for Career Day or taking our kids to the corn maze, helping kids recognize, appreciate and know where their food comes from is an important job.

My son was endeared by this calf at Waldrow Dairy, near Sussex, N.B.
This calf was really more interested in seeing whether my daughter Olivia had a bottle of milk than she was in having her photo taken. Perryhill Farms, near Sussex, N.B.

Celebrate Farmers!

Here’s a great Open Farm Day video from Nova Scotia, but the event is just as amazing in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Manitoba. Open Farm Day is Sunday, Sept 16.

For details about Open Farm Day, check these websites:
New Brunswick Open Farm Day

Prince Edward Island Open Farm Day

Nova Scotia Open Farm Day

Manitoba Open Farm Day

Open Farm Day took root in NB

My daughter Olivia, who was three when this photo was taken, loved getting up close and personal with this lamb during Open Farm Day in 2003.

Over the last 12 years, an event celebrating local agriculture has spread across the country.

Open Farm Day is Sunday, Sept. 16. Several other provinces also hold Open Farm Day on the same weekend.

The first Open Farm Day in Canada was held in New Brunswick in 2000. Karen Davidge, a farmer near Fredericton, N.B., says one of her neighbour’s was on a fall trip to Maine when she heard about that state’s Open Farm Day. She collected promotional material — which described the one-day event as a time when farmers of all sectors open their gates and invite the general public to visit — and brought it home to New Brunswick, handing it over to Davidge.

Davidge was a member of the provincial farm organization’s education committee and the group took the idea and ran with it.

“We said, ‘let’s go for it’ and we did,” Davidge recalls. That year, 61 farms throughout the province opened their gates and 6,000 members of the public flocked in. The event expanded throughout Atlantic Canada, drawing in thousands of visitors. Looking back through some old stories, around 12,000 people visited farms during the Open Farm Days of the early 2000s.

Throwing open the farm gate and inviting the general public in can be a bit of a scary proposition for farmers. There’s a high threat of disease — who knows where all of those boots have walked and now they’re mingling among crops and livestock — a farmer’s income.

Open Farm Day was cancelled in New Brunswick in 2001 because of the outbreak of the highly contagious foot and mouth disease (which can infect cows, sheep, goats and hogs) in the United Kingdom. By implementing biosecurity measures like having visitors wash the bottom of their shoes in disinfectant or viewing poultry or hogs through windows, farmers still have the chance to showcase their work, keep their product safe and further educate the public about the importance of keeping their animals and plants secure.

The day as evolved into a family event, with many taking their young children to provide insight into where their food comes from. The exposure, say the farmers, is priceless. There is no better way for the general public to find out that it’s families just like themselves operating farms.

http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/financial/openfarmday/index.html

http://www.fermenbfarm.ca/?lang=en

http://www.meetyourfarmer.ca/openfarmday/

http://www.gov.pe.ca/af/openfarmday/index.php3?number=1023477&lang=E

My son Mark, two at the time, fell in love with feeding the calves at this dairy farm near Moncton during Open Farm Day in the early 2000s.

Wordless Wednesday

A delicious lunch hosted by the German Provincial Stands of Northrhine-Westfalia. Pork, sauerkraut and beets. Delicious!

As agricultural journalists, food usually ends up playing an important part of our meetings. Farmers, processors, chefs and hosts are usually anxious to showcase the food they’ve had a hand in creating. Here’s a look at some of the food we ate last month during the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) executive meeting in Berlin, Germany, held during International Green Week.

This was like a custard or cheesecake, with raisins and apple syrup. The apply syrup was divine, but I wasn't a huge fan of the rest of it. However, certainly appreciated the hospitality!

 

Lunch at Switzerland stand - sausage, risotto, broccoli and carrots. We started with a green salad and rolls.

 

Since the 2012 IFAJ Congress is in Sweden, we were hosted at a reception at the Scandinavian Embassy and treated to some traditional food. Clockwise from the top, reindeer (which didn't look as much like liver as it does in this photo and tasted quite nice), risotto, shrimp, chocolate cup with a dollop of sour cream topped with cloudberry, white fish, caviar, smoked salmon, turnip, carrots and carrot puree and a potato dish. In the centre is a slice of moose meat. Thanks to colleague Adrian Krebs for hunting down the food while I babysat the drinks.

 

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

(I’ve made the somewhat spontaneous leap from Blogger to WordPress, so acknowledging that it’s no longer Wednesday, I’m giving this a try with yesterday’s post. Cheers – A)
I spent the past week in Berlin, Germany, attending executive meetings of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists. We were hosted by International Green Week, the world’s largest food, agriculture and horticulture show. The show features exhibitors from around the world, with many selling food and showcasing the agricultural specialties of their part of the world.
420 varieties
This lovely German potato farmer seemed thrilled that I came to visit his booth in the agricultural section of International Green Week. He proudly told me that they had 420 varieties of potatoes on display.
Dutch Tulips
Guess which country had the large tulip display? Holland, of course.
Pakistan's booth had a heavy emphasis on food traceability and food safety.
These guys didn't appear very impressed with International Green Week.