Having difficulty explaining where piglets come from? Or struggling to get a city cousin to appreciate the origin of whole wheat bread? A new facility located at the National Centre for Livestock and the Environment, at the University of Manitoba’s Glenlea Research Station has the answers to those questions and more.
The Bruce D. Campbell Farm and Food Discovery Centre is aimed at providing information on current research projects and food production in Manitoba in a kid-oriented environment.
“We’re trying to get people more connected to where their food is coming from, to give them more information about what they’re eating,” said Guy Robbins, manager of visitor services. “Now, most people are five, six or more generations away from farming. Many people don’t know anyone who is a farmer and may have never actually been to a farm.”
The centre aims to decrease the knowledge gap between farm and plate by tackling issues like food security in a growing world, sustainability, pest management and biosecurity.
Visitors have to walk though a mock-up of a biohazard shower before taking a peek into a working hog barn through four expansive windows featuring different stages in hog production.
“People really seem to enjoy the piglets,” said Robbins, but added that people unaccustomed to pigs are often surprised by how large they are and how clean their environment is.
The manager said interest in the centre has been building since it opened to the general public in July, and that displays will continue to evolve to incorporate new research and farm practices as they are developed.
The centre also shines a light on Manitoba’s agriculture industry with everything from interactive displays on the province’s international trade, to soil samples from the Red River Valley.
And the information doesn’t end with production, tours at the centre end at the same location as most agriculture products; the kitchen.
“We want to get people thinking about the food they’re eating, how many calories, sugar and sodium they are getting,” said Robbins. “We also want people thinking about how much food costs here, and how much people spend in other countries.”
He noted that in some developing nations people spend only $1 a week on food, while in other nations people are spending more than $500 a week.
“It gets people thinking,” he said.
The centre also gets people thinking about the Canadian Food Guide and how their own diets compare. A soon-to-be-installed exercise bike will allow people to pick out a virtual meal, and then pedal away the calories. The average french fry requires about six minutes of cycling.
An onsite meeting room also doubles as a classroom, and can be rented for other functions as well.
The centre will hold its official grand opening Friday, Sept. 16 and is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. More information can be found by visiting http://umanitoba.ca/faculties/afs/discovery_centre/index.html.
shannon. vanraes @ fbcpublishing.com
“Now,mostpeople arefive,sixormore generationsawayfrom farming.Manypeople don’tknowanyone whoisafarmerand mayhaveneveractually beentoafarm.”
— GUY ROBBINS