Farmers head to school for Ag Literacy Week

It’s often said farmers speak their own language, but schoolkids in nine provinces might soon understand it a little better thanks to Canadian Agricultural Literacy Week.

Hundreds of farmers will be going back to school Feb. 26 to March 3 to talk to children and read from selected books telling stories about food and farming as part of a first-ever initiative put on by Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) and funded by Farm Credit Canada.

It’s a week to strengthen the relationship between schoolchildren and the people who produce food, said Johanne Ross, executive director of AITC-Manitoba, who’s co-ordinating the national program.

AITC develops agriculturally themed teaching resources for schools, but this initiative is different, she said.

“When you think of literacy you automatically think of reading books, but in this day and age literacy can mean so many things. We want it to be beyond the books and about making that personal connection and putting a face behind agriculture.”

In Manitoba, for example, 20 schools and about 40 classrooms of Grades 3,4 and 5 students were expected to open their doors to Manitoba farmers. Canada-wide, as many as 400 classrooms are expected to take part.

“We’ve had a wonderful response from our producers and our ag industry contacts to get in there and tell the agricultural story,” said James Perkins, interim executive director for AITC-Saskatchewan.

With most families now two or more generations removed from the farm, organizers are expecting some lively classroom discussions.

“Someone is bound to raise their hand and ask a question,” said Perkins. “We’re really encouraging farmers to tell their story. They have a story to tell that goes far beyond the books.”

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