New camp aims to get youth excited about farming
Camp comes as province wrestling with issues over agriculture, food supply
A new camp in Fredericton is looking to get youngsters interested in farming.
The Future Farmers camp is just one of the camps being offered this summer by Nashwaak Valley Farm.
The camp gives children a chance to interact with both common farm animals, like pigs, and not so common ones, like camels.
Lacey Lescaudron, the director of outreach education at Nashwaak Valley Farm, said the farm has always looked for new outreach opportunities.
They usually take animals to schools, nursing homes and fairs, but those trips aren't really possible because of COVID-19.
"We were going to wait until next year to start our camp programming," said Lescaudron.
"But then, once the coronavirus shutdown hit, we kind of lost a lot of revenue for our farm...so we knew we had to do something."
Focus on farming
The future farm camps come as the province is exploring the future of its food supply vulnerabilities exposed by the pandemic.
Numerous local food producers have indicated that the pandemic has brought an increase in demand for their goods.
At the same time it also become clear that the sector relies heavily on temporary foreign workers to help run farms.
In April, the province banned temporary foreign workers from entering New Brunswick, drawing criticism from the agricultural sector..
The province expected those vacant positions to be filled by local workers, but by and large, they didn't apply.
"We're big on the self-sustainability aspect of farming," said Lescaudron.
"Everybody's kind of realizing that it's a bit more necessary than we had thought there for a little while."
Camp during COVID
This is the first year that the farm has hosted youth camp, and extra precautions being taken to protect campers.
Campers will be split into two groups, there are regular temperature checks for participants and increased cleaning procedures at the farm.
"With kids, it's definitely a game of Whack–a–Mole sometimes trying to keep everybody where they're supposed to be," said Lescaudron.
"So we have to rotate times that the kids are in the pasture caring for the animals or doing certain activities because we do have to maintain that social distance."
The camps are being offered in both English and French.
The French component came after bilingual workers mentioned there really wasn't anything similar for the city's francophone population.
"Once our programming had got out through the community we definitely have had lots of positive feedback that we're offering it, and not just having a group of French–speaking on English week, but actually the whole week is a French speaking week," said Lescaudron.
Lescaudron said the campers are a mix of kids interested in farming, and those who just love animals, but they all receive important lessons about the industry.
"There's a lot of hard work but there are very good reasons to do this and to care for the animals and to love the animals that you're caring for even if the point of having them is to consume them," said Lescaudron.
Future Farmers camps continue until the end of August.