Ag in City draws newbies

The Forks Market in Winnipeg helps cook up some interest in agriculture by 
playing host to the eighth annual Discover Agriculture in the City event

For farmers, it’s all in a day’s work, but for the students who came to check out Discover Agriculture in the City, it was something totally new.

Thousands of visitors made their way through the three-day event held at The Forks Market in Winnipeg last weekend, including many youths and students, taking in displays, cooking competitions and demonstrations on farming in Manitoba.

Paul Unger teaches at Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute (MBCI), and brought 17 of his Grade 10 students to the annual event, noting most were not from farming backgrounds.

“I used to teach in Winkler and there’s a pretty surprising contrast to see,” he said. “Students at my former school were very familiar with agriculture and at harvest time we’d be missing students because they’d be out helping on the farm.”

Not so with his MBCI students, who are almost exclusively from urban backgrounds.

“But they’re keen to learn; everybody eats,” Unger said.

Although some teachers include agriculture in their curriculum, it’s not widely taught in Manitoba, if it’s taught at all.

That prompted the theme for Agriculture in the Classroom’s public speaking competition: Why agriculture should be taught in schools.

Courtney Jordan spoke about the importance of knowing where food comes from and how it’s produced, noting schools are the ideal place to introduce youth to farming.

But the competition winner and University of Manitoba agronomy student didn’t grow up on a farm herself.

“My boyfriend’s family farms and I was around it over the years, and then I started working at Viterra,” she explained. “I started asking questions and getting more interested.”

Before then, Jordan didn’t know much about farming.

Like many city-dwellers, she saw farm equipment on the roads, and enjoyed fresh food, but didn’t really understand what it was all about, she said.

Now she hopes events like Agriculture in the City will help inform more people about the role agriculture plays in people’s lives.

Sharon Larouche of Winnipeg brought her three young sons to The Forks last weekend to give them a taste of farming and it seemed to agree with them.

“I think they’re enjoying it, they’re taking a look at everything,” she said.

Manitoba’s minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives kicked off the event by emphasizing the importance of farming.

“Agriculture in the province of Manitoba is the second-largest industry… directly and indirectly agriculture contributes 62,000 jobs to the province and contributes $10 billion to our economy,” said Ron Kostyshyn. “It’s exciting times for the province of Manitoba and agriculture.”

About the author

Reporter

Shannon VanRaes is a journalist and photojournalist at the Manitoba Co-operator. She also writes a weekly urban affairs column for Metro Winnipeg, and has previously reported for the Winnipeg Sun, Outwords Magazine and the Portage Daily Graphic.

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