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Brantford-Brant students take an inside look into agriculture

AgricultureBrantford-Brant students take an inside look into agriculture

More than 1,000 Grade 5 students from Brantford and County of Brant public, catholic and private schools, had the chance to learn all about the agricultural industry during the 29th annual Bite of Brant event that took place on Tuesday, April 9 and Wednesday, April 10, 2024.

With the help of 125 volunteers, 20 stations were spread out between the two exhibition buildings of the Burford Fairgrounds, where farmers and educators represented the various commodities of the agri-food industry.

Throughout the day, youngsters had the opportunity to rotate from station to station every 12 minutes, learning and gaining an appreciation for where their everyday food comes from, as well as the benefits of Ontario and Canadian produced food.

Volunteers explain to students how to harvest honey during the Bite of Brant event on Wednesday, April 10, 2024.

Betty Butcher, a dairy farmer, retired educator and long-time volunteer, said that the purpose of the event is for kids to discover how the agri-food industry in the County of Brant plays a vital role in the economy and society.

“It’s an educational program that introduces the students to where their food comes from, the agricultural aspect of growing food and processing it, as well as farming equipment that is needed to make it all happen,” she said. “I like to think that all the kids that have come through the program in 29 years have become better consumers and purchasers of food because of it.”

Lillia Dockree and Esther Brouwer of the Brant Historical Society, show how wheat was processed in the past during the Bite of Brant event on Wednesday, April 10, 2024.

During the event, students received an up-close look at a variety of agricultural practices including pressing apples into cider, growing mushrooms, harvesting honey from bees, plant and soil needs, the maple syrup process and much more.

Several viewing areas also had many children wowed by the sheep, piglets, goats and cows that were on site, and they curiously listened in as they learned about the care that goes into raising livestock and the processing that comes with it.

Avery Marcy, a Grade 5 student from Burford District Elementary School, told the Brant Beacon all about what she thought about the day and how she wanted to become a berry farmer when she grows up.

“I find it lots of fun and I think my favourite thing was the soybeans and what they put on thin wool from sheep to make all sorts of different things,” she said.

Youngsters get a hands-on opportunity to plant their own basil and tomato seeds during the Bite of Brant event on Wednesday, April 10, 2024.

With an overall pizza theme to the day, the students gained an understanding on how even something as simple as fast food starts in the fields. Each group got hands-on experience in milking procedures with a life-size cow model, grinding wheat into flour and planting their own basil and tomato seeds.

Butcher said that she was happy to see how curious this year’s students were, especially during a time where many children have moved to the area from bigger cities, or have had no experience being raised on, or near a farm.

“I think it’s extremely important to foster this connection because more and more, children these days have no link to somebody who owns and operates a farm,” she said. “Around 50 years ago, everybody had a grandparent, an aunt or an uncle that had a productive farm and while now there are several people who live in the country, they may not have anything to do with agriculture. It’s been nice that a lot of the groups today have been very interested and have asked good questions because they’re the consumers of the future.”

Grade 5 students learn how to process wheat into flour during the Bite of Brant event on Wednesday, April 10, 2024.

Alexis McDonell, a Grade 5/6 teacher from Sacred Heart in Paris, said that one of the many benefits of the day was being able to get out into the local community. 

“Aside from the connection to the curriculum, because we’re teaching about nutrition and biodiversity, I think it’s really nice that we’re getting out into our community and that it’s sort of an inspiring event for kids who maybe are interested in more of the trades and agriculture.”

Volunteers discuss soil health during the Bite of Brant event on Wednesday, April 10, 2024.

She said that overall, her students were loving the event.

“I think part of it is so special because they seem to be connecting with an older generation and we don’t get to see that very often,” she said. “They’ve been absolutely fascinated by a lot of the exhibitors, in particular, they really loved learning about the mushrooms and bees. Honestly, it’s just great to see them actively engaged with lots of smiles on their faces.”

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