Most people in North America are more than three generations removed from the farm. Ag in the Classroom (AITC) and the Government of Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture implemented a creative program to provide elementary students with a better understanding of where their food originates. Last year, 350 students in Yorkton, Canada, learned how to truly make a pizza from scratch through the Pizza Farm program, hosted by Monsanto.
During third grade, as part of the curriculum with AITC, students visit the farm in June to plant all of the ingredients used to make a pizza, including wheat, tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic and herbs, with the exception of canola which has already been planted. The plot is organized in a circle, like a pizza, and “sliced” into planting stations for each crop.
In September, the students return during their fourth grade year to harvest the ingredients. Nearly 50 volunteers assisted the events of this program. Industry members are there to discuss different roles of agriculture, and a cow and piglets are included in this visit to represent the dairy and pork ingredients on pizza. Students can also analyze the root systems that have grown while picking the ingredients, which are then utilized in creating pizzas at school that afternoon.
“Ag in the Classroom and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture hope to incorporate many people and topics from the industry and bring children a hands-on experience,” said Ashley McCoshen, Monsanto ESH technician and Pizza Farm volunteer. “This program bridges the gap between this industry and the education system, bringing agriculture into the classrooms and children out to the farm.”
For 2015, Monsanto was the primary sponsor of the Pizza Farm, in both Yorkton and, for the first time, Saskatoon. For Saskatoon, schools will apply for the Pizza Farm program, which creates an opportunity for schools that do not have funding to take advantage of the program as it was previously organized.
“We always invite the parents and the children’s siblings out to the events,” said McCoshen. “Next year, we’ll invite all of the Monsanto families as well. I think it is a great way to showcase who we are and what we do.”