Our world has changed. We now see children who have no idea where their food comes from, how it is grown, or how it gets cultivated. For me, as the daughter of a farmer, this is a truly sad fact. Our children, and their children, still need to feed themselves every day, but we have not armed them with the tools to understand agriculture and what it brings to our tables. When they are asked where food comes from, and the majority of them answer “The grocery store.”…we have a BIG problem.
Learning about Agriculture and the people who grow the food we eat is an important part of being a responsible member of our world. There are many easy ways you can incorporate agricultural learning into your every day. These easy steps may help you teach your kids a little bit about farming, its practices, and the food they eat.
Just like all learning skills, learning about agriculture can start young. In fact, it may be the very best time to start! Kids are enamored by animals, tools, and machines. So, when they are little, embrace that curiosity and seek out ways to encourage it. This can be as simple as visiting local farms, watching a tractor at work in a nearby field, or even taking your children to pick their own apples right off the tree. Encourage them to ask questions. If you don’t know the answer yourself, spend time to find it.
Talk about Ag Careers
When people think of Agricultural careers, they often only think of the “farmer”, but the agricultural world is much larger than that. Talk to your children about what they want to be when they grow up, but don’t leave out the possibility of farming, agricultural science, animal science, agronomy, soil conservation, and plant science. If you look for agricultural careers, you may be amazed how many there are!
One of the best ways to teach your kids about agriculture is to give them the opportunity to participate in their own food chain. Grow something! Maybe you only have room for a small garden, or even a pot of herbs, but growing something and caring for it will be something your children will remember. Taste the food, talk about ways to make it grow, and discuss soil amendments, pest control, and any other issues. My boys love to taste things straight from our garden, so they are excited to plant and tend the beds as the food grows.
Find a Local Farmer
If you buy and eat meat, find a local small farmer to purchase from. You get a healthier product, and your children can see that relationship between producer and consumer without the middle-man of the grocery store. Each year, in the fall, we purchase beef to fill our freezer. We can visit the farm, see the animals, and know where and how they were raised. This is a great way to talk about humane care of animals, as well as how meat gets to market.
Most small farmers love and are very proud of their herds. They feed this meat to their families as well, so they really care about the quality, care, and health of their animals. This caring can show your children a great deal about farming, but also about humanity.
When our children learn about agriculture, we help ensure a better future for us all. Getting back to growing our own food, using small family farms, and talking about how our food is produced is an important part of that process. Get out and grow!