Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

Features Fruit Production
New virtual farm tours launched


November 16, 2010
By Fruit & Vegetable

Topics

November 5, 2010,
Guelph, Ont – The farm gates are “virtually” open on a series of new online
farm tours being launched.

November 5, 2010,
Guelph, Ont – The farm gates are “virtually” open on a series of new online
farm tours being launched.

Online visitors can meet
real Ontario farmers and tour real farms that grow grain, field vegetables, fruit
and greenhouse vegetables – without putting their boots on. The project is part
of ongoing efforts to help connect consumers to farmers and how their food is
produced.

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“Less than two per cent
of Canadians are involved in agriculture which means that most of us have never
had the opportunity to visit a real farm or talk to a real farmer,” says Paul
Wettlaufer, a farmer and chair of AGCare, the Guelph-based organization behind
the project that represents crop and horticulture farmers on environmental issues.
“The interest in where our food comes from has never been higher. These new
virtual farm tours are a great way for kids and consumers of all ages to see
how their food is grown in Ontario.”

Each tour starts with an
aerial photograph of the farm property and follows a series of crops through an
entire growing season. Visitors can click on different parts of the photograph
to enter various buildings and learn about different parts of the farm through
photographs, videos and panoramic images, similar to how real estate
professionals market properties online. 

The tours are hosted at www.virtualfarmtours.ca, where
they have joined a series of existing tours of livestock farms developed by the
Ontario Farm Animal Council, including dairy, pigs, poultry, sheep, cattle,
veal, deer, elk and ratites.

A CD of all the tours,
along with a newly developed teacher’s guide – containing curriculum
connections for all grades and suggested classroom activities – is being distributed
to every elementary and secondary school in the province. The resource will
also be featured at the upcoming Science Teachers Association of Ontario annual
conference in Ontario.

“It’s important for
students to have accurate information about where their food comes from and to
get connected with modern food and farming,“ says Wettlaufer. “Agriculture
touches all of our lives in many different ways and these tours and teacher
guides will be a valuable resource to bring that experience into Ontario
classrooms.”