Strictly speaking based on my own experiences, being a city dweller, it can be difficult to see our connection to the world of agriculture at times.  The former “Farmers Feed Cities” campaign spearheaded by the Grain Farmers of Ontario rings true.  We are highly reliant on agriculture as a source of nourishment.  In an effort to demonstrate my interest in agriculture and the important role it plays in our day to day lives, I’ve tried to expose my daughter to the various aspects of the industry. By being more aware of not only where her food comes from but how it’s produced, Miss O will hopefully become a more informed consumer in the future (no pressure!).  

Here’s a list of some of the activities we enjoyed this summer (and some we plan on enjoying this fall).  Perhaps your little ones also enjoy these.

Farmers Markets

Most cities host this weekly event during the warm summer months (some are year round!) in an effort to bridge the gap between consumers and farmers.  We love to stroll down the street and take in the sights and sounds.  In addition to local farmers selling their produce, our local farmers market includes arts and crafts, live music and baked goods and much more.  We’ve even ventured over to the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto which offers a great variety of vendors and is open year round (the farmers market is only open in Saturdays).

Petting Zoos 

The local park in our neighbourhood includes a mini farm that gives children the opportunity to interact with animals during the summer months and learn about food (there’s also a mini vegetable garden).  This park provided a great opportunity to stroll through on Sunday afternoons and check on the animals.  Miss O is still a little too young to partake in the pony rides but I’m sure she’ll want to give it a try when she’s a little older.  The CNE also had a farm pavilion for children of all ages (yes that includes you too mom and dad) to take part in various farm related activities.  Miss O especially enjoyed the activity where she and other kids pretended to be farmers for a day.  They had a chance to collect eggs and pretend to plant crops and sheer sheep.

Industry Events

The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair (www.royalfair.org) has been gracing Toronto with its events (such as the ever popular horse show) for 93 years!  It’s the largest indoor fair of its kind in the world (very impressive) and provides an excellent opportunity for children to learn about agriculture.  I remember school and family trips as a child and being fascinated by the animals I saw.  Based on Miss O’s response so far to being around animals, I’m sure she’ll enjoy seeing the horses.  The fair runs from Nov 6 – 15 this year.

Aquariums

OK, this technically isn’t agricultural but it still provides an opportunity for children to learn about animals.  I recommend Ripley’s Aquarium (www.ripleyaquariums.com) located in downtown Toronto for adults and children alike.  On a recent trip with Miss O, we spent about 4 hours exploring the sites and learning about marine life.  If you’re feeling adventurous you can even swim with and feed the stingrays.  How great is that?!

“Pick Your Own” Farms

These days you don’t have to drive very far to find a “pick your own” farm.  In the past we’ve enjoyed apple picking at Downey’s Farm Market and visited during their Pumpkinfest.  We loved it, there are so many fun ag related activities for kids.  They also have a farmers market and bakery on site.  Lots of savoury and sweet goodness!

If you also have an interest in agriculture, what are some of the activities you’ve introduced your young ones to?