Book Club – Farm Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of Country Life

Learning about agriculture may seem intimidating if you do not come from an agricultural background or don’t have previous experiences in the industry. Don’t let this discourage you. There are a multitude of different resources that are easy to comprehend and will make learning about agriculture enjoyable. A great example is the book, “Farm Anatomy – The Curious Parts and Pieces of Country Life” by Julia Rothman.

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Teaching about American Indians and Agriculture

November was National Native American/American Indian Heritage Month, but it is always the season to honor and reflect upon the traditions, stories, and current events of the many different tribes who first called Oregon home, and who do so to this day. For non-Native educators whose own knowledge of the cultural diversity, heritage, and agricultural/resource management traditions among Native Oregonians may be limited, it is important to develop the skills necessary to identify culturally sensitive, responsive, and accurate curriculum resources.

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Expressing Agriculture through Art

Oregon students in grades 7 through 12 submitted artwork for the Second Annual Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom Young Artist Contest this past school year. The purpose of the contest is to showcase the beauty of Oregon agriculture while creating a positive learning experience for students. The contest also helps further students’ understanding of agriculture’s impact on our daily lives.

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Harvest of the Month

October is National Farm to School Month! This national celebration is all about highlighting innovative programs that foster connections between students’ taste buds, minds, and their local food system. One program gaining traction around the country is the Harvest of the Month. Each month, schools feature a local food item either in the cafeteria or in students’ classrooms. Students conduct taste tests, and learn about the nutritional content of the item. Some schools serve recipes in the cafeteria that feature the item all month long. Harvests are not limited to fruits and vegetables, but can include dairy, meat, or even a locally significant fish like salmon!

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What’s Going On? – Ear Notching

Along with the changing leaves, pumpkin patches and spooky thrills, October is dedicated to the appreciation of pork. Pork is the most consumed meat around the world and serves as a very important food source. In the United States, the pork industry is booming with about 60,000 pork producers that raise around 115 million hogs annually.

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I Soiled My Undies…and You Can Too!

Fall is here, bringing cooler temperatures and shorter days. In the garden, it is time to start harvesting the few remaining summer crops, making room for cold hardy plants like garlic and onions. As the season changes and garden productivity wanes, soil that once housed a plethora of warm season plants can begin to look sparse. In the Pacific Northwest, where winters bring heavy rains, a garden left unprotected can lose not only substantial amounts of soil, but may also leach nutrients essential to plant health. For schools (and home gardeners like myself), time is a limited resource. Rather than losing your soil and replacing it next year, the most economical and efficient thing is to keep and improve upon the soil that you have. The best part about soil health? If you play your cards right, your garden will do the work of maintaining soil health for you.

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Young Gardeners Bloom at McKinney Elementary

McKinney Elementary (Hillsboro, Oregon) is making use of a Farm to School Grant from the Oregon Department of Education to incorporate agriculture across their curriculum. Partnering with Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom, committed community members such as Debi Lorence, and many local environmental education organizations, McKinney has used the funding to re-establish their school garden, and to hire a school garden coordinator. Six months into her position, McKinney’s coordinator (Megan Kupko) has this advice for fellow school garden educators. “Take things slow, observe and interact with the land, students, teachers and parents and allow relationships to develop. But don’t be afraid to get outside and try new things!”

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Compost Is for Everyone!

I’d like to be able to tell you that my love of worms is purely academic. They are, after all, an excellent addition to any garden. They aerate the soil, which makes plant roots happy, and their waste—referred to in the worm lover community as castings—restores essential nutrients to the soil, vastly improving the yield of your garden. The truth of the matter is...

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