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Group raising agriculture awareness

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If you ate today, thank a farmer.

That’s the message the Agri-Food Education Committee is trying to get across during the inaugural “Canadian Agriculture and Food Celebration” this week.

Although the week didn’t officially kick-off nationwide until Monday, the local committee—headed up by Kristine Carpenter, Shirley Morrish, and Pat Clysdale-Cornell—got things underway Saturday with a build-your-own scarecrow workshop at the Clover Valley Farmers’ Market.

“We made plenty of scarecrows and a lot turned out—and a lot sold,” Morrish said, noting money raised from scarecrow sales will go towards ag awareness materials that get handed out in district classrooms.

“We even had a great big ‘Frankenstein’ scarecrow,” Morrish laughed. “He was beautiful. We stood him up in the corner and he sold first.”

Morrish said several teachers stopped by the workshop Saturday, asking for material and information to bring back to their class. She added the end result for much of this is a class trip to a district farm, which is exactly what the agri-food committee wants.

“We have children who think that’s where food comes from—the grocery store,” Morrish said. “But there’s a lot of adults who aren’t aware of [agriculture] yet, too.

“I’ve had American tourists visiting the farm from the tourist information centre so we take the time out to take them for a wagon ride and pet the baby animals,” she noted.

“It’s a first for some of those people—they’ve never seen a real turkey or goat or sheep.”

Clysdale-Cornell noted the province used to hold an “Agri-Food Week” until about five years ago. She said she was glad to see the federal government revive the idea and help Canada get in touch with its farming communities again.

“One in seven jobs is related to agriculture and food in some way in Canada,” Clysdale-Cornell said. “As the population gets further and further away from what farming is about, people forget that. This is just a way to highlight that again.

“If there were no people farming in the rural areas of Barwick, Pinewood, and Stratton, what would the effects be?” she asked. “There would be whole businesses that would disappear.

And that affects everybody else,” she stressed.

Another way to get people thinking about where their food comes from has been in the form of a radio quiz, which is running on CFOB each morning through Friday.

Each winner receives a locally-produced food product, ranging from jams and jellies to meats and honey, donated by some vendors at the farmers’ market.

District municipalities also were asked to declare this week as “Canadian Agriculture and Food Celebration Week” although some were not able to vote on the motion until yesterday.

“We’re already doing some work for next year,” Clysdale-Cornell said, adding notification will be given to municipalities much earlier.

“Each year, we’re going to add on something new,” she said. “Hopefully, we’ll have all the municipalities celebrating, perhaps even the museum.

“And perhaps even the businesses can use it as part of their store promotions.”

Clysdale-Cornell said Canada has some great agricultural statistics to boast, such as having one of the largest and safest food supplies in the world. The point of the week is to make sure non-farming Canadians become aware of that fact.

“If you take a bite of something, you’re involved in the agriculture/food industry,” she stressed. “It goes all the way to the consumer.”

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