Roots of Bruce returns after three-year hiatus

·3 min read

WALKERTON – Thanks to a lot of planning and hard work by dedicated volunteers, the Walkerton Agricultural Society’s Roots of Bruce made a triumphant return on April 20 and 21 after a three-year pandemic hiatus.

No one was more pleased than the hundreds of Grade 5 students who attended.

Students were mostly from Bruce County, with some from western Grey County. Home schoolers also had the opportunity to attend.

The three agricultural buildings had several stations, with groups of students moving from one to another for presentations and hands-on activities.

The various commodities were represented, along with a number of organizations: Bruce County Beef Farmers, Bruce County Farm Safety, Bruce County Holstein Club, Bruce County Milk Committee, Bruce County Soils and Crops, Canadian Foodgrains Bank, Dairy Goats (Anja van Vlies, Lindsay Scheurwater), Alpaca Ontario (DL Farms), Draft Horses (Doug Schaab), Egg Farmers of Ontario, Equipment Ontario – Technology in Agriculture, Grain Farmers of Ontario, Grey Bruce Health Unit, Grey Bruce Pork Producers, Grey Bruce Veterinary Association, Ontario Beekeepers Association, Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association, Ontario Sheep Farmers District 2, Pumpkinfest, and Stewardship Grey Bruce.

While there were a number of animals onsite and even a sheep shearing demonstration, chickens were not present, due to concerns about avian flu.

Students learned a lot – that it’s important to keep safety in mind at all times including washing your hands (an obvious one after COVID) and being careful around farm animals and equipment; that technology used in plowing in Bruce County runs the full gamut, from magnificent draft horses, to fully automated machines; that if the earth is represented by an apple, only a tiny bit represents the amount of land that feeds all the people on earth; that alpacas are fascinating creatures with very warm fleece; and that agriculture in Bruce County is a massive and remarkably diverse industry with many career opportunities.

The volunteers were just as excited about the return of Roots of Bruce as the students.

Barb Zettler said proudly, “This is our 26th year.” She explained that Roots of Bruce started as an education program from a plowing match, with Elaine Lang one of the people who started it.

The Agricultural Society committee members were joined by Rotarians, and high school students from Sacred Heart and Walkerton District as well as Chesley’s High Skills Major program.

And that doesn’t even include the many presenters, a team of medical first responders from St. John Ambulance, and the Women’s Institute ladies who provided lunch.

Roots of Bruce serves to raise awareness of the importance of our agricultural community, food production and supporting industries in Bruce County. The event is designed to foster an appreciation for the production and marketing of food and the sustainable practices to manage our natural resources.

Earth as an apple

An apple was used to demonstrate how small a proportion of the earth has appropriate conditions for agriculture.

Mike Dupuis and Tim Mancell cut the apple into quarters. Three were oceans and were set aside.

They sliced the remaining quarter in half – one piece represented parts of the earth not suitable for human habitation – polar regions, deserts, mountains.

They sliced the other eighth into four pieces, meaning each was now only one-32nd of the whole apple, and took one of those pieces and carefully peeled it - agriculture takes place at the surface of the earth. This tiny piece of apple, barely three per cent of the fruit, represented the total area of agricultural land that has to feed the entire planet.

Farmers are the stewards of this precious slice of soil, they said. The students got the message.

(From the Roots of Bruce website, where the entire apple demonstration, not this abridged version, can be viewed.)

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times