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Farm Fair connects students, agriculture

Matthew Weaver

Capital Press

Eastern Washington elementary school students meet with agricultural representatives during the Farm Fair, running alongside the Junior Livestock Show of Spokane. The event helps drive home the fact that food comes from farmers, says Diahne Gill, executive director of the Northwest Natural Resources Institute.

SPOKANE — Farm Fair participants say they hope to show roughly 1,000 Eastern Washington elementary school students that their food doesn’t just come from the grocery store.

The annual event, put on by the Northwest Natural Resources Institute, takes place at the same time as the Junior Livestock Show of Spokane at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center.

Area fourth- and fifth-graders learned about various aspects of agriculture, including cattle, the relationship between soil and wheat, grains, dairy, bees, goats, sheep and imports and exports. Washington State University added a station on nutrition.

“Agriculture is the number-one industry in the state and a lot of these kids have no idea how important it is,” executive director Diahne Gill said.

Last year the event drew 600 students. Gill believes the increase this year may be due to school’s testing schedules. A school from Mead, Wash., even used public transportation to attend the fair, she said.

She expects the event to “definitely” continue, noting it educates future consumers.

“A lot of these kids come in here and they have never seen a cow or a goat,” she said. “This gives them the opportunity to see these things up close and come to the realization that their food does not come from the grocery store. They don’t make that connection (to the farm).”

“Anything that we can get to the youth, along with the teachers, to inform them more about what the industry is all about and the many, many uses livestock provide other than beef, milk and cheese,” said Willard Wolf, industry advisor for Spokane County Cattlemen.

Wolf’s presentation pointed out that properly managed cattle are good for the environment.

“It’s to get them informed when issues come up, to give them a little bit more background information as to why (cattle) are more important than just the food end of it,” Wolf said.

Marci Green, a Fairfield, Wash., area wheat farmer represented the Washington Association of Wheat Growers, speaking about the wheat industry as good stewards of the land and working as an efficient business.

“Any little bit of information we can get out there to educate them about agriculture and farming is worthwhile in the long run,” she said. “We’re trying to cultivate knowledgeable consumers.”




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