Teaching Saskatchewan kids agriculture through pizza

Watch above: Saskatoon school children are learning about agriculture in a rather unique way this week. Wendy Winiewski takes a trip out to what’s being dubbed the ‘pizza farm’ as kids plant ingredients that will later be turned into the yummy pies.

SASKATOON – A shift in agriculture production over recent decades has created a disconnect in the understanding of food production, according to Susan Jorgensen. She is the program manager for Saskatchewan’s Agriculture in the Classroom.

This week the group is helping students connect those dots.

“We all obviously eat every day so we all have a role in agriculture,” said Jorgensen.

“We think it’s important for kids to understand what it is and especially in Saskatchewan where it is such an important part of our economy and our history.”

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This week, Grade 3 students from Saskatoon, Allan, Vanscoy and Mosquito First Nation are taking part in Agriculture in the Classroom’s “pizza farm.” The field trip takes place east of Saskatoon at Monsanto research farm. A plot of land, split into 10 slices includes each ingredient needed to make pizza.

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“I thought it was just grown somewhere else,” said Jack Gray in reference to the locally grown ingredients.

Gray is a student enrolled at Roland Michener elementary school in Saskatoon. Like many urban Canadians, none of his relatives farm and his family stopped gardening years ago to make more recreation space in the back yard.

The students planted tomato, pepper and herb seeds in their classroom in early spring. Tuesday they planted their sprouts at the research farm and learned about the other elements grown in Saskatchewan that are used to make pizza.

“We’ve got some dairy calves out here for the cheese portion, wheat for the dough, and then the canola,” explained Justin Krieger while motioning to the different soil slices.

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Saskatchewan oilseed production has grown successfully over the last 30 years. A crop that did not exist here three decades ago is now the second largest crop grown in the province according to the province’s ministry of agriculture.

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“Even just as simple as spraying some oil on a pizza pan to make sure the dough doesn’t stick,” said Krieger.

It’s all part of the learning experience for the students who will return in fall to harvest their plants and turn them into pizza.

According to Statistics Canada, Saskatchewan farms are the largest in the country, averaging 1,668 acres. In this province 49 per cent of all farmers are age 55 or older – meaning there are less farms and the generation gap between rural and urban living, is widening.

The 2011 census shows there are 205,730 farms remaining in the country.

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