When it comes to agriculture, one member of the state Assembly wants to start growing seeds of knowledge at an early age to help bring a younger generation into farming.
“We have a gap in agricultural knowledge. The average age of a farmer is 58-years-old. This is where the knowledge of how our food is grown is typically staying,” said Danielle Volles, president of the Onondaga County New York Farm Bureau.
Assembly Member John Lemondes proposed a bill that would direct all publicly funded schools to provide in-depth instruction on agriculture in elementary, middle and high schools.
“The whole intent of this is to touch K through 12 students three times, in K through five, six through eight and nine through twelve, so that we graduate 18-year-olds that know a little bit more about where their food and fiber came from,” Lemondes said.
“Farming isn’t just taking care of animals and picking vegetables," Volles said. "Farms have people who do human resources management, you have diesel technology, you have people who are leaning about mechanics. You have people that are doing environmental types of jobs that all revolve around agriculture.”
The proposed bill would let school districts and superintendents assess what their schools need, how much and how to resource it.
“Putting this in the hands of teachers is really the work that needs to be done once this bill is passed," LaFayette Central School District Superintendent Jeremy Belfield said. "And really relying on pour partners at the state Education Department to help us build the framework and develop curriculum.”
“We need to start raising farmers so that we have people in generations that are coming up to take over these critical components of everyday life,” Volles said.