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Senator has a field day with farm campers
September 11, 2017

As the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry continues its study on the acquisition of farmland, deputy chair Senator Terry Mercer met with young people getting their first taste of life on a real, working farm.

At the Central Experimental Farm — a large swath of agricultural land in the heart of Ottawa — the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum’s Junior Farmer Camp was in full swing as children between 12 and 14 years old got up close and personal with a few friendly calves.

Senator Mercer, who has served on the agriculture committee for 13 years, is the principal food shopper and cook in his family; he knows the importance of having a connection with your food and knowing where it comes from.

“It’s wonderful to see you all here,” he told the excited campers. “Canadian agriculture is very important because we, as a country, help feed the world.”

The highlight of the week is the Calf Show, where campers show off the animals they have been working with and caring for during their time at the camp.

Each group presented their calf, including its name, age, size and weight, as well as a few fun facts about the breed and the personality of each animal.

Camp leader Patricia Burhunduli said the campers’ training of each calf is extremely valuable.

“If you teach a calf to be led on a leash at a young age, it will learn to cooperate with handlers, which makes it a lot easier to move the animal once full grown,” she said.

Senator Mercer also got a tour of the grounds with museum Director General Kerry-Leigh Burchill. The museum’s camps are incredibly popular; the approximately 1,400 available spots often fill up within 48 hours.

He’ll take the experiences of the farm with him when the agriculture committee resumes its study in the fall.


Participants in the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum’s <a href='' target='_blank'>Junior Farmer Camp</a> talk cows with Senator Mercer prior to attending the camp’s Calf Show — a culmination of the week’s lessons where campers show off their "adopted" calf to friends and family.

Senator Terry Mercer and the agriculture museum’s junior farmers prepare for the Calf Show.

Senator Terry Mercer joins Canada Agriculture and Food Museum Director General <a href='' target='_blank'>Kerry-Leigh Burchill</a> as they discuss one of Canada’s agricultural success stories at the <em>Canola! Seeds of Innovation</em> exhibit on Friday, August 25, 2017. The Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry highlighted Canadian canola’s journey from field to foreign markets in its May 2017 report <a href='' target='_self'><em>Market Access: Giving Canadian Farmers and Processors the World.</em></a>

From right, Senator Mercer meets with museum camp staff Adam Hassen, Patricia Burhunduli and Tom Noyes Roberts. Summer camps at the museum are often staffed with teachers-in-the-making, or students with an agricultural background.

During the week of August 21-25, Tiberius the calf was in the care of campers, from left, Lawson MacDonald-Quig, Peter Gemmell, Kirk Bowby and Patrick Gemmell.

Senator Terry Mercer joins campers’ friends and family in the audience.

Camper Jasmine MacEwen handles Piko, her adopted calf for the week. She told Senator Mercer that she hopes to become a volunteer at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, and work there as a camp counsellor.

The Canada Agriculture and Food Museum is home to a real working beehive. It’s currently featured as a live exhibit highlighting the role of bees in canola pollination. In May 2015, the Senate’s agriculture committee released a report called <a href='' target='_blank'><em>The Importance of Bee Health to Sustainable Food Production in Canada.</em></a>