Show gives city kids a glimpse of agriculture

Roughly 1,500 children participated in field trips to Farmfair this year, making it a busy day full of learning

Young students with Edmonton’s Khalsa School were giddy to see the cattle in Livestock Alley at Farmfair International in Edmonton last week.

Their eyes widened when they got up close to the animals. Some moo-ed for the fun of it.

“We are pretty excited about this field trip,” said Grade 4 teacher Kajal Patel. “We are all of Indian origin, so it reminds us of back home, which is fantastic.”

Patel’s class was among many school groups that toured Farmfair during the week of Nov. 6-10. There were about 1,500 kids that came through the doors over three days.

Many of the students come from Edmonton, meaning most of them have little to no knowledge of agriculture.

With Farmfair, they get a glimpse of the livestock industry, offering what organizer Patty Milligan says is a fantastic opportunity.

“I think it helps them think about food differently,” said Milligan, an agriculture and education specialist with Northlands. “It gives them an understanding of Alberta as a province, as well as how agriculture is one of our most important industries.”

Patel’s class had a bingo sheet while exploring the livestock, checking off certain animals they saw.

It’s the second time the class has been on an agriculture field trip, but this time they got to see more animals.

“It’s informational for them to know farm animals and know what happens on the farm,” she said. “It’s quite the site for them, and it’s a wonderful approach for learning.”

Along with having activity sheets, the kids also get to watch the cattle shows. They are given some general criteria of what makes a good cow so they can pretend to judge it, Milligan said.

Volunteers guided them through Livestock Alley to ensure they weren’t disrupting show-cattle work.

Milligan said many of the children who attend Farmfair are first-generation Canadians. Some are even learning English for the first time.

“It’s a way to bridge connections between rural and urban,” she said. “We always talk of that divide so, if there is anything we can do to bring worlds together, it’s going to benefit both the industry and us as humans.”

The children got to get up close with some other livestock, including sheep, goats, rabbits, and ducks at the petting zoo.

Their reactions varied from excited to slightly scared, but overall they got a better sense of farm animals, Patel said.

“It’s amazing,” she said. “It’s been a really exciting day.”

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