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How Do Children Learn About Farming?

Old Mc Donald had a farm, ei,ei,o. And on that farm he had some cows, chicks, pigs, ducks, etc…

That’s how I started learning about farming when I was a child. I soon learned that not all farms had cows and all the other animals. I was disappointed but understood that farms can still be farms with only one or a few kinds of animals. My farm education was enhanced by regular visits to my uncle’s, formerly my grandfather’s farm, and with daily summer walks down the road to see the neighbor farmer’s baby pigs. I also visited friends who lived on a farm and got squirted with hot milk right out of the source. Building forts with hay bales and running through cow pastures trying to avoid the cow pies all added to my growing knowledge of farming. It was a gradual education filled with warm summer days and scheduling holiday meals around milking time.

As years went by, I learned that some farms didn’t have any animals at all, other than maybe a dog or a cat. They grew crops. Things like peas and grains that were processed in large plants that we drove by as we went into a nearby city for events there. As a teen-ager, my friends and I always took really deep breaths as we drove by the whiskey distillery, where we knew the local grains had been delivered.

I learned about plants by working in the flower garden with my mother. She had a really green thumb and loved plants and working the soil. I don’t think she really wanted to ever leave the farm where she was raised. The flowers, a tomato plant and a few rows of lettuce kept her tied to her roots.

All of this came back to me as I participated in the Annual Agricultural Literacy events at area schools. In the two classes where I read, one second grader said his family had chickens, one little girl admitted to having bunnies and two children lived near the woods. That was the extent of the farming experience for about 30 children in the rural area where I live.

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