After spending a beautiful day at Landmeterskop Farm, surrounded by hatchlings and sheep I realised how little time our kids spend on farms these days. I was lucky to have two uncles and grandfather who farmed. Many holidays were spent on these farms. During those visits, we waited for the cows to come home for their afternoon milking, went to the chicken coop to collect eggs for breakfast and drove with my grandfather for the cattle feeding.
Those were some of my favourite memories, others were not so great because when I was just about ten years old I also saw how a sheep, already slaughtered was loaded onto a bakkie to be taken to a neighbour. I took part in the annual meat processing weekend when my grandfather brought huge plastic containers with beef from the farm. We helped with the making of boerewors, packaged the mincemeat and steaks and hooked the biltong. I knew very well where my food came from; I had a choice whether I wanted to be a meat-eater or not based on these experiences. No surprise that I was a vegetarian for many years, but that is a story on its own. This reminded me of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and I came across this extraction from Erik Nashawn Nkembe’s thesis (2012):
In one of the episodes of Food Revolution, Jamie walks into a first-grade classroom in Huntington, West Virginia to determine whether or not the students knew what fresh foods look like (Smith, 2010). To Jamie’s surprise, most of the students could not identify basic food items such as tomatoes and potatoes, however, the students readily identified chicken nuggets, pizza, French fries, and hamburgers (Smith, 2010). Much to Jamie’s, and the researcher’s, disappointment, the harsh reality of today’s society is that many of our youth, not just the first graders of Huntington, West Virginia, can’t identify fruits and vegetables nor can they connect the fact that raw food items are used in the production of their favourite food items to eat. Today’s youth believe that food, clothing, and other items come from the store and have no idea of the processes these items go through before their consumption or use.
Jamie’s Food Revolution is based on 6 principles:
- Food Education
- Food Waste
- Our Planet
- Ethical Buying
These principles encompass a holistic approach to teaching our kids about the origin of their food, what the best nutritional choices are, how to utilise our resources in the best possible way without being harmful to our planet, encouraging and inspiring kids to get hands-on in the kitchen and one of my favourites; ethical buying. We have to start supporting our local producers which will reduce the impact on our environment (carbon footprint) and most of all this is a wonderful economic injection in our communities. Gone are the days where we are focused on the exotic and expensive, this is the time to go back to traditional methods and getting involved in our farming communities. What better way to do this than to start with our kids, the next generation of responsible consumers.
This brings me to the next interesting view, if we expose our kids to the source of food, we may very well inspire a new generation of farmers. Very few youngsters ever consider a career in agriculture mainly due to the stigma of physical labour. As Nico Groenewald mentions in a Farmers Weekly article (June 24, 2014):
“By its nature, agriculture is primarily an outdoor occupation. However, that’s not the whole picture. Agriculture is a science and needs people with degrees in science and engineering to help push it forward on levels such as genetics, soil management, and water management, physical construction such as dams and contouring, and mechanisation.”
If you are not convinced yet here are a few things to consider with regards to the importance of educating our kids about farming:
Farming Teaches Kids:
- Where Their Food Comes From
- How to Care for Animals
- Life Skills
- Safety Skills
- To have a Greater Appreciation for Food
- The Life Cycle
- To have a Greater Awareness Weather and Mother Nature
- Problem Solving Skills
- That Hard Work Results in Sweet Rewards
You may wonder how you can get your children interested in this revolution, especially if you don’t have relatives with farms or live close to a farm.
I’ve discovered two wonderful initiatives:
Farmer Kidz – a programme that focuses on the development of children through the training and implementation of basic farming skills supported by agri-technology
Afrikara is a community committed to upholding, and actively promoting, soil fertility and animal health. They are a working farm and established cooperative, practising biodiverse, natural farming to produce organic dairy, lamb, eggs, vegetables and honey. They host wonderful Waldorf-themed camps for children and young adults that encourage learning, through participation in authentic farm activities.
Search for local farms in your area that are offering these experiences and donate to their scholarship funds. These scholarships will provide us with the next generation of agriculturists.
We will be visiting and featuring our local farms this April and I’m sure you will be inspired to do the same for your children.
“Our highest endeavour must be to develop free human beings who are able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives. The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility—these three forces are the very nerve of education.”