Food Farm celebrates 10 years of ag education

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Ducks Unlimited taught about water testing at the Food Farm on Tuesday, May 30 at the Conservation Learning Centre. For more on this story see Page 12.

Agriculture in the Classroom Saskatchewan (AITC-SK) is celebrated the 10th anniversary of their Food Farm program with a stop at the Conservation Learning Centre near Prince Albert on Tuesday, May 30.

Jordyn Lieb-Minto, programs coordinator for Agriculture in the Classroom, said the program is a way to connect students to agriculture.

“This is our 10th year of doing them in the province. We’re offering 10 various locations across Saskatchewan right now for typically Grade 3 and 4 students to attend them,” Lieb-Minto said.

The first Food Farm was held in Yorkton in 2013 and 10 years later, the program is celebrating its milestone with 10 locations around the province.

“(Students) work through a variety of different stations that are hosted by a variety of different people in the agricultural industry and they learn about various things from livestock and other things,” Lieb-Minto explained.

AITC-SK works with partners that host the Food Farm at their business or farm and engages many local agriculture volunteers who facilitate hands-on learning stations.

The Conservation Learning Centre stop included Ducks Unlimited water sampling and farm safety along with planting of onions and potatoes.

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Students hunted for bugs in water samples during the Food Farm on Tuesday, May 30 at the Conservation Learning Centre.

“Every food farm looks different, so everything is unique to what your host is offering, so we have a variety of different ones across the province,” Lieb-Minto said.

The Prince Albert one had water testing with Ducks Unlimited and a live chicken display.

Robin Lokken, Manager of the Conservation Learning Centre, said they benefited from the expertise of local volunteers.

“We were able to have pigs because we know someone local who has pigs to bring, and in the fall we do this all over again with a different set of stations,” Lokken said. “Our site has a corn maze. I’m not sure how many other sites have that.

“Each location definitely brings something different to the table for the kids.”

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Students had a chance to plant both potatoes and onions during the Food Farm on Tuesday, May 30 at the Conservation Learning Centre.

Lieb-Minto said the purpose is to expose students to agriculture in the province.

“There’s a huge disconnect between, I think, kids these days and obviously agriculture in the province, and that’s not just kids,” she said. “A lot of our population just doesn’t understand what goes on in the industry because it’s so much these days.”

For adults who have grown up around agriculture, the industry has also changed significantly.

“It’s a super innovative industry, so (we’re) showcasing to kids what it looks like as well as just exposing them to possible career pathways someday, which is awesome,” Lieb-Minto added.

Lieb-Minto said the stations offered lessons that apply to Grade 3 and Grade 4 curriculum in social studies, science, health and other curriculum.

The morning session had two schools from Prince Albert and one from Meath Park and the afternoon session included students from Prince Albert.

There was a similar event in Melfort at Gateway Veterinary Services on June 6. There is also a future event in Tisdale on June 14 at Greenland Seeds.

“It’s an awesome program for kids and teachers and even parents and volunteers that have joined us today,” Lieb-Minto said. “I think everyone definitely takes something away from it because there’s something for everyone here. It’s a beautiful location for it, so it works out perfect.”

After planting in the spring, students are welcomed back to harvest in the fall.

“The kids plant it. They come back in the fall and harvest it and the stuff from the food farm garden we donate to the food bank in Prince Albert,” Lokken said.

“Kids will come in the spring, and then if they’re able to make it, obviously we then host an event,” Lieb-Minto added.

If a class is not able to pick up their food in the fall other classes or people can substitute in

“It’s awesome, it’s been good so far. And I think the kids definitely take something from it and they all leave tired and taking something from it,” Lieb-Minto.

Lokken said they couldn’t do it without help from businesses in the area.

“I would really like to thank our volunteers and our community. We also have a lot of local businesses that provide us with donations for the garden, Obsession, Green House in St Louis Superstore in Prince Albert and the Canadian Tire in Prince Albert donated plants for the garden,” Lokken said.