Urban children learn about agriculture

By Tom Lollis

Children learning about agricultureSouth Carolina children get a three-month break from school each summer, but most don’t know they owe their free time to days when students were needed to work on the farm.

 “Most students today are urban so they don’t have to work on the farm or know much about farms and agriculture,” said Don Manley, Clemson Extension entomologist at the Pee Dee Research and Education Center (REC) in Florence.

He and other Clemson faculty, staff and volunteers are trying to correct that. Each fall elementary school students tour the Pee Dee REC and Edisto REC at Blackville to learn about crops such as corn, soybeans, peanuts and cotton and how they are used in products found at the local supermarket.

Claudia Meadows, volunteer leader for the Learning Center facility of the Agricultural Heritage Center at Edisto REC, led a Soil Science Week to teach children the importance of this natural resource. A soil profile pit showed how soil is like a layer cake with­ a thin organic icing on top and thicker layers of topsoil, subsoil and clay below.

Students attending the S.C. State Fair in Columbia heard John Oxner, Clemson Extension agent in Lexington County, explain how food gets from the farm to the processor, from the processor to the distributor, from the distributor to the retailer and from the retailer to the table.

 “We’re trying to help young people recognize that farming is very important,” said Manley. “As long as all of us want to eat, we need farmers.”