Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Checking Out the Royal with the Grain Farmers of Ontario

It's that time of year in Toronto, when the country comes to the city in the form of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. It is an amazing opportunity for urban dwellers to learn about rural life, meet real, live farm animals, and get great insights into where our food comes from. We love visiting the Royal each fall, and were delighted to attend again this year as guests of the Grain Farmers of Ontario.

This organisation represents the 28,000 growers of barley, corn, oats, soybeans, and wheat in Ontario. Grain crops cover over 6 million acres of Ontario land, generating over $9 billion in economic output and more than 40,000 jobs in the province. That's a major economic impact. The Grain Farmers attend the Royal each year to educate the public about their impact, the many uses of grains, and the great nutritional value of their products.

This trailer has informational videos, displays, educational games, and super friendly and knowledgeable grain farming volunteers.

One of the educational displays. I was intrigued by the vastly different root systems. One of the farmers present explained the typical crop rotation in Ontario, and how the root systems relate.  The typical three are corn, soybeans, and wheat. The corn has that crazy extensive root system that breaks up and aerates the soil. Do you see those round nodules on the soy roots? They are able to store nitrogen from the atmosphere, increasing the nitrogen in the soil, which benefits future crops in that same field. Wheat comes after soy so that it benefits from that extra nitrogen. And overall, crop rotation promotes soil health and disrupts pest and disease cycles.

This wall display shows off the huge variety of items that are made with grain products. It's not just food. Cleaning products, personal care, diapers, rubbing alcohol, antifreeze, fuel - all contain grains.

Did you know that crayons are made with soybean oil?

Kids love their tech, so the Grain Farmers tap into that with eight stations for educational computer games. These games engage the kids in learning about farming and food production, in way they are comfortable and having fun.

Grain Farmers get social
The Royal is on now at Exhibition Place, and runs through this Sunday, November 15. There's livestock competitions and food crop displays, animal shows, a petting farm, vendors, and, of course, the Grain Farmers of Ontario. Be sure to stop by and visit them at their trailer while you're at the Fair. And remember you can connect with the Grain Farmers on social as well - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+.

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