Alyssa Wentzell said she learned something interesting on Thursday — that food grown here in this region tastes better than other food.
Wentzell was one of about 267 students to participate in the 9th annual Rooting for Health program at Pasadena Elementary in Pasadena.
The program, with a from-farm-to-table focus, teaches children about where their food comes from.
The students in kindergarten to Grade 6 were treated to a breakfast using local eggs berries and milk with a menu of egg and cheese wraps — cooked by chef Brian Osmond — yoghurt and berry parfaits and milk.
They also got to meet local farmers Nathan Dennis and his partner Ashley Rothwell of Long Range Poultry Farm in Cormack, representing the Egg Farmers of Newfoundland and Labrador, Melvin Rideout of Rideout’s Farm in Cormack and Bill and Terri Lynn Robbins of Robbins Family Farm in Deer Lake.
Rideout brought along a variety of the produce grown at his farm and the Robbins had one of their Silkie chickens to show the children and also talked about the programs they offer.
Dominion provided some funding for the breakfast and dietitian Sherry Buckingham spoke to the children about healthy eating and balanced nutrition.
A representative of the Department of Fisheries and Land Resources was also in attendance.
Wentzell, who is in Grade 5, especially enjoyed checking out the Silkie chicken from Robbins Family Farm and learning about how they are bred and cared for.
She said she knew that some of the food that she eats was grown around here, but didn’t know just how much can be acquired locally.
She thought having the farmers visit the school was a good idea.
“It’s pretty cool because a lot of people volunteered and not even being paid they game in for us.”
Nathan Dennis wasn’t surprised that many kids don’t realize that the eggs on their plate came from a farm close to them.
“Through this and other programs we’re trying to change that,” said the egg farmer.
Dennis, who is also a vegetable, beef and sheep farmer, has participated in Rooting for Health before through his other farming venture, Dennis Farm.
“I think it’s important overall just to get out and get the children educated in eating healthy food, and knowing where their food comes from and getting to see a face of who produces their food,” he said.
“I think it’s also important to start them as kids, so as they grow up they can understand the importance of food and where it comes from.”
He said he wants to educate kids, but also support the farming industry and hopes that maybe it sparks and interest in someone to become a farmer.
Long Range Poultry Farm is a new entrant into the province’s egg production industry
It has a quota of 5,072 birds, which are all Bovan brown
It’s the first commercial free-run layer operation in the province
With a full flock the farm can produce 400 dozen eggs per day
Rooting for Health Partners
Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Agriculture, Agriculture in the Classroom Program
School Milk Foundation
Egg Farmers of Newfoundland and Labrador