Carson City event connects youths to their food.
WRITTEN BY JEANNE LAUF WALPOLE
PHOTOS COURTESY OF SANDY WALLIN AND RONNI HANNAMAN
With more people living in urban — rather than rural — areas, less than 2 percent of Americans have any personal experience seeing where their food comes from. The same is true for The Silver State, which, according to the USDA, is home to 4,137 farms across 5.9 million acres. Unfortunately, many Nevadans don’t have a clue how wheat, hay, dairy products, and cattle are produced on them.
To help close this knowledge gap among the state’s young people, the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension office initiated the Capital City Farm Days event about 20 years ago in Carson City.
“There was an increasing need to teach kids about where their food and fiber come from,” says Sandy Wallin, 4-H program coordinator for Carson City and Storey County. “If you asked a kid where they got their meat, they’d say ‘the grocery store.’ Some of the children don’t have a good idea about what goes into ranching and farming.”
Although the main focus of the two-day farm event has been to teach students, teachers, and parents about how animals and crops are raised for their benefit, in recent years it also has broadened to include information about how environmental issues affect Nevada’s farming and ranching industry. About 800 to 1,200 participants attend the farm days each year to experience programs offered by an impressively eclectic group of presenters from such agencies as the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association, the Nevada Department of Agriculture, the Lahontan Audubon Society, and the National Wild Horse and Burro Center at Palomino Valley, along with cowboys, farmers, ranchers, beekeepers, herding dogs, and saddle makers, to name a few.
Far from a boring, bookish event, farm days offers interactive educational experiences that are fun for both youths and adults.
“The beekeepers come dressed as bees and have an activity that represents pollination,” Wallin says.
Youths also can interact with a variety of farm and ranch animals. The star of the show, however, is Moolissa the Milking Cow, NDA’s plastic cow, which children actually can milk.
“They adore the animals,” Wallin says.
As a lover of the land, Jeanne Lauf Walpole applauds any efforts to bring people closer to it.