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Sunday, 25 September 2016 04:16

Harvest at the ‘Burger Ranch’ will be enlightening for students

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Sandy Garrett of the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture gives a tomato plant to Grade 3 students from O.M. Irwin School to plant during her presentation about growing vegetable crops at the Burger Ranch event in Swift Current, May 25. Sandy Garrett of the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture gives a tomato plant to Grade 3 students from O.M. Irwin School to plant during her presentation about growing vegetable crops at the Burger Ranch event in Swift Current, May 25.

It’s not often people other than those directly in the agriculture industry, get an opportunity to crush canola to see how cooking oil is made, see combines harvest grain crops or even have the chance to see where the mustard comes from that is put on hot dogs.


However, thanks to a partnership between the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture and an initiative called Agriculture in the Classroom, the Food Farms program is growing across the province.  A handful of Swift Current schools from the Chinook School Division will attend the plot of land at the Wheatland Conservation Area’s plots Sept. 27 to check out the “Burger Ranch”.
The Burger Ranch area has crops and vegetable plants related to the making of burgers and fries that people would get at home or a restaurant. It aims to help people better relate to the agriculture industry.  The demonstration day in the spring also included a beef steer, dairy calf, and farm machinery.
Kari Burnett, the regional farm management specialist, Regional Services Branch, Ministry of Agriculture in Swift Current, was excited about the opportunity to have the students learn about their food. She says it’s a positive, hands-on way for youngsters to learn.
“Some of us take for granted that people know where the food they eat comes from,” says Burnett, one of five members of the regional staff in Swift Current.
“To actually see it live, have the experience of being on a farm (is positive). I think we’ve all heard the statistic that only two per cent of Canadians have direct ties to the farm, so giving these students the opportunity to come out and get their hands dirty provides an opportunity for hands-on learning they might not otherwise get.
“We want them to say, ‘hey mom guess what I learned?’ and start the conversation at home as well.”
According to Saskatchewan Agriculture, “the program was initiated by the Ministry of Agriculture’s Yorkton Regional Office, who developed the first Pizza Farm in 2013. Grades 3 and 4 students seed the many wedges that make up the circular pizza plot in May and return to harvest their produce and make pizzas in September.”
Swift Current’s regional agriculture office got on board with its Burger Ranch earlier this year.
On May 24-25, a total of 191 students from Centennial, O.M. Irwin, Central and Fairview schools had the chance to see how the agriculture industry produces the food they eat with different demonstrations, exhibits, and seminars.
The plots are at the Wheatland Conservation Area east of Swift Current.
It was unfortunate in May the students didn’t get a chance to go out to the plots to see the seeding due to extremely wet weather. Now on Sept. 27, they will get to see what will be harvested as the end result of the growing cycle.
Burnett says the students will be in two different shifts with the first starting at 9:30 a.m. and everything winding up at 3 p.m. in order to get them to their appropriate buses.
They will get a chance to see the wheat plant harvested and then the kernels ground into flour and the products made from the flour.They will also see how canola is crushed into oil, and how milk products — in this case cream — can be turned into ice cream. 
She was grateful for the sponsorship from many local agriculture businesses, as well as volunteer assistance from their federal agriculture counterparts at the Swift Current Research Centre, as well as local farmers, cattle producers, and those in the related field from area businesses.
This particular event is not open to the public. Burnett says when this session is over they will look at what worked and what needs improvement, and are excited to start planning for next year.

Read 815 times Last modified on Wednesday, 21 September 2016 14:25
Ryan Dahlman

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