12.6 C
Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Connecting Our Communities

Spreading the word about the agri-food industry

As we become increasingly removed from farm life, provincial program aims to bring lessons to school kids


Kitchener-Conestoga too close to call

With less than five percentage points separating the Conservatives and Liberals in the riding, Kitchener-Conestoga has become too close...

Meet the candidates

By Veronica Reiner & Aneta RebiszewskiFive candidates are vying for your vote in...

Community rallies to support teen diagnosed with leukemia

The community is rallying in support of an Elmira family coping with their son’s leukemia diagnosis, raising more...

Candidates make pitch to voters in Woolwich

Largely sticking to their respective party lines, the five candidates running in the Kitchener-Conestoga riding made their one all-candidates...
Faisal Ali
Faisal Alihttps://observerxtra.com
Faisal Ali is a Reporter/Photographer at The Observer.

If you are what you eat, than it’s fair to say many Canadians don’t know all that much about themselves. Over the last century, there has been a decline in family farms and the number of farmers that make up the population. But as the youth filter out of rural areas into the cities, there’s a danger of country’s still prominent agriculture practice becoming increasingly obscure to the millions of Canadians who depend on it.

To raise awareness for Ontario’s own thriving farm-industry, the provincial government is partnering with the educational not-for-profit AgScape to turn that trend around. Over the next three years, Ontario has committed $1.2-million to AgScape’s programming, which aims to improve school-aged children’s local food literacy.

“Our number-one flagship program is the teacher-ambassador program. With that program, we’re focusing on Grades 7 to 12,” explains Catherine Reining, manager of the ambassador program at AgScape.

The program hires ambassadors to visit classrooms across the province and provide lessons on all things food. The service is entirely free, with interested teachers simply having to reach out to the company.

“More and more there’s becoming a disconnect between the food we eat on our plate, where our food actually came from and where it was grown,” said Reining, “especially as we see more people living in urban centres, away from rural communities, away from where the actual food is being grown.”

The program offers lessons on topics such as local and global food systems, food security, the value of our fresh water supplies and the types careers that are available in agriculture sector.

The last is especially poignant because, for all the talk of people’s difficulties in finding gainful employment out of college, the agriculture sector is comparatively flush with jobs and short on applicants.

“One in eight jobs in Canada is in the agri-food sector, and we need the people to work in those jobs. So the more students are understanding where their food comes from and the options locally, the better informed they are and the more informed decisions that they can make.”

According to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), the sector employs more than 760,000 Ontarians, while contributing an estimated $34 billion to the economy.

Audrie Bouwmeester, chair of AgScape board, points out that working in agriculture is not exclusively restricted to just farming.

“You could be a lawyer and work in agriculture. You can become a teacher and work in agriculture. You become a lot of things and still be working in the agricultural industry. We want (students) just to be able to view it as an option,” she said.

The AgScape program is just one of the ways the provincial government is trying to promote and support its local food-producers in the ever more globalized food market. Last year, the province contributed approximately $35 million to various projects like the Greenbelt Fund, Foodland Ontario and the Local Food Fund, according to the 2015/16 Ontario Local Food Report.

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to The Observer's online community. Pseudonyms are not permitted.By submitting a comment, you accept that The Observer has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner The Observer chooses. Please note that The Observer does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our submission guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.


Scaring up some Halloween fun in Elmira

Those in search of the Halloween spirit need look no further than the vibrant, spooky display at an Elmira heritage home, an experience that adds a charitable aspect into the mix.

In Print. Online. In Pictures. In Depth.

You obviously love community journalism. Thanks for visiting today. If you have a great local story, let us know.

Pa(i)r for the course

The EDSS girls’ and boys’ golf teams teed up a strong showing at the Central Western Ontario Secondary Schools Association (CWOSSA) regionals, and are...

Sugar Kings double up on Stratford Warriors to continue hot streak

Home and away, it was a good weekend for the Elmira Sugar Kings as they twice bested the Stratford Warriors, extending their winning streak...

Woolwich prepares input to province on gravel pit policy

Woolwich is preparing its two cents as the province looks to overhaul the Aggregate Resources Act (ARA). The township plans to submit comments during...

A seamless transition for Paul Kalbfleisch

Twenty-two years after retiring, Paul Kalbfleisch is actually going through with it.After 32 years of teaching, Kalbfleisch putting away...
- Advertisement -