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Campers live the farm life

marciadottin, [email protected]

Campers live the farm life

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The “seeds” of agriculture have now been sown in the minds of 13 children after the Governor General’s Agricultural Summer Camp last week.The eight boys and five girls, aged six to 13 years, were exposed to plant growth and food production, horticulture, animal husbandry, various types of irrigation and a range of agricultural products during the August 9 to 20 camp, based at Brighton Plantation in St George.“The fact that the camp’s base is a working farm automatically exposes the children to the practical things which take place daily on a farm,” camp coordinator Senator Dr Frances Chandler told the SUNDAY SUN.“They see tractors moving in and out of the plantation yard, going to spray or cultivate fields; they see the cane harvesters being serviced after the last crop season. They also see vendors coming in to buy produce from the farm. “They saw carrots being washed mechanically and then stored in a refrigerated room to extend their shelf life.”Chandler said the children left having a far better understanding of agriculture.“Those of us who work in agriculture take it for granted that everyone knows what crops look like in the field, but this is far from true. The children thought that eddoes were cabbages and beets, and that yams were carrots. “They would have learnt at the camp that their food does not originate in the supermarket and must go through many processes before it reaches their table. They learnt about the many difficulties that farmers face so that they would better appreciate fresh produce . . . .“They were also surprised to learn that agriculture also produces clothing [the children had never heard of sea-island cotton], shelter, fuel and pharmaceuticals,” she added.The children got their hands “dirty” too planting their own sweet potato cuttings or ‘slips’, and butternut squash seeds, which they took home at the end of the camp.There were also a number of tours that included:• a trip to Kendal Farm, St John, where they saw dairy cattle, automated milking, as well as a pork fattening facility;• the rabbit farm at Victoria, St John, to see the difference between rabbits and hares – rabbits are born blind and hairless, while hares are ready to go as soon as they are born;• the most modern pig farm on the island – Barnwell Farms in St Thomas – where artificial insemination is used and pregnant sows are fed special rations to ensure they have healthy offspring. There was also a flower arranging class at the Barbados Horticultural Society in Balls, Christ Church; while a tour to a five-acre farm in Shop Hill, St Thomas, exposed them to the cultivation of herbs, peppers, cucurbits and cabbage under drip irrigation and plastic mulch.The campers also visited Redland farm in St John where they saw rainwater harvesting for irrigation, and lettuce and herbs grown under hydroponics.The youngsters were said to have shown particular interest in the budding and grafting session which the Ministry of Agriculture’s staff from the Soil Conservation Unit conducted. They were even given pieces to plantat their homes.“At the end of every tour, the children enter into their journals a description of what they have seen. They then go home and expand on this, doing research on the Internet and discussing with their parents. At the end of the camp, the workbooks are handed in and judgedfor prizes. “The parents must be congratulated on the keen interest they took in assisting their children with the workbooks,” said Chandler. (BW)

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