Growing program helps kids

Published 8:33 pm Saturday, January 31, 2015

As American families move into the cities and suburbs and away from rural communities, one of the things that have suffered has been children’s knowledge about where their food comes from.

In the 1800s, hardly an American child would have reached his teenage years without milking a cow, plowing a field or slaughtering a pig. But many these days have never seen a farm and believe their food comes from the grocery store, with no earlier origins than the supermarket shelf.

The rural nature of much of Suffolk’s land area means that most Suffolk schoolchildren likely don’t suffer from such agricultural ignorance. Indeed, when Agrium’s Seed Survivor program, sponsored by the Farm Bureau, arrived in Suffolk this week, several third-, fourth- and fifth-graders were able to name “bread” as something that is made out of wheat.

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That’s not a surprising outcome in a fairly rural community, volunteer Rexford Cotten said.

But the students’ knowledge base was expanded even more through the program, which taught them about the three main soil types, which crops are suited to which, and more. Students planted sunflower seeds in a small pot and were taught the proper amount of watering.

They also got the chance to play with interactive stations on water, light, soil, nutrients and growth.

The program’s visits last week and in the next two weeks to area elementary schools will be beneficial to the children and to the teachers as they supplement the science curriculum. It may also encourage the students to eat healthier as they learn more about what constitutes “real” food.

The outcomes can’t be anything but good for this program, and we thank all those who helped bring it here.