Farm and food activities find online home


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This article was published 26/06/2020 (1000 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A farm discovery centre that normally sees a lot of school tour groups come through in the spring months turned to the internet in order to be able to deliver programs and activities.

The Bruce D. Campbell Farm and Food Discovery Centre is located at the Glenlea Research Station just south of Winnipeg. It functions as part of the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, and now has a wealth of information available to parents and educators on its website.

Kristen Matwychuk, the centre’s acting manager, said closing the doors to the public made staff realize they could take their tour group activities and reformat them into lesson sheets and videos.

“We know that people are struggling for activities to engage their kids in at home, and educators are looking for lessons,” she said.

Among those are videos on how pigs get a bath, how to make your own hand sanitizer, how to sprout seeds, along with recipes for granola bars and pumpkin-hemp heart muffins and the squeamishly-named “manure milkshake smoothie bowls”.

“My personal favourite is the granola bars, because they contain 50 per cent Manitoban or Canadian ingredients, and they’re so good,” Matwychuk said. “The smoothie always gets a laugh from the people who come through the centre. We have a lesson on soil components, so we figured out a way to connect the ingredients to plants that make use of manure. It does get a funny reaction.”

The centre is a hands-on facility that explores the way food is made in Canada, leading visitors from the farmer’s wheat field to the kitchen table. A highlight of the exhibits are the viewing windows into a working hog barn, Matwychuk said. Research on pigs might look at enrichment, offering them toys to play with, as they spend their whole lives inside the barn. There are also dairy cows in a pasture, and sometimes beef cows.

“We normally offer 10 program tracks at the centre. When we had to close, we started picking out activities that we know people enjoy and would translate easily to an online format,” she said.

Although the centre remains closed to the public, Matwychuk said they are working on procedures to reopen. “In a normal year, we get a lot of people visiting in July and August on Saturdays,” she said.

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