Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Consumer Education Starts On the Farm.

Rick Bottoms and Nancy Caywood. Univ. of CA, Desert Res & Ext. Cntr, 1004 E. Holton Rd., 1004 E. Holton Rd., El Centro, CA 92243, United States of America

Most people are 3rd and 4th generation removed from farms.  Two percent of our population feeds the nation and yet any registered voter may cast their vote, whether it is informed or uninformed, on issues relating to natural and renewable natural resources including agriculture.  Our children are growing up in a society of convenience.  It is not necessary for them to understand agriculture and its importance because their food is available at the grocery store.  However, when they are of voting age, they will have no understanding of agriculture and the many challenging issues it faces.  In the winter of 2002, an outreach program was created at the University of California Desert Research and Extension Center. The goals were to allow students including adults of all ages an opportunity to learn more about their environment including watersheds, water transportation and delivery, water and soil conservation, nutrition and its relationship to agriculture, irrigation techniques, beneficial and non-beneficial insects, crop production, crop identification and crop harvesting.  This program has reached more than thirty-five thousand people since its beginning.  Offered only in Southern California and Southwestern Arizona, it appears there should be similar programs throughout the United States so people can learn about agriculture and that their “Nutrition Starts on the Farm”.