Do you remember taking field trips in elementary school? There's nothing quite like getting out there in the real world. Dry dusty schoolbooks come alive.
Likewise teaching university I find there are so many times I wish we could get out there. In fact, as I show pictures of landscapes from around the world to my classes I often suggest we should "take a field trip there."
Needless to say, I really look forward to lab periods when we rent the big white van and see the world face to face. Last week we toured our fertile Fraser Valley to see farming first hand.
Our first stop was the Apple Barn, where Loren Taves showcased his operation which includes growing apples, pumpkins, peppers and much more. Loren stated very transparently that after his university education at SFU he ended up working the farm where he was raised, and he "doesn't know why" because it's hard to make a living on the farm. Yet as he went on to explain the subtleties of growing apples and peppers and marketing them, it was clear he loved his work.
Loren Taves explains how to prune an apple tree
Our second stop was Blueberry Junction, where Craig Seale regaled us with tales of the life of a blueberry grower. Once more we heard about economic uncertainties (the price of blueberries is down) and the challenges of dealing with weeds and the weather, but yet once more we got the feeling that Seale would not trade the farming lifestyle for any other. Even if none of the 15 students in the class were into agriculture (and a few of them in fact are), farming holds life lessons for them.
Craig Seale among blueberry bushes at Blueberry Junction
I could spend hours talking about the art and science of agriculture in the classroom, going into great detail on plant cultivation, pest control, current trends in organic or conventional farming, mechanization, and how to gain an economic advantage through a "value added" approach like "Upick" or farmgate sales. But why lecture about it when we can just go out and see farmers like Loren Taves and Craig Seale out standing in their fields?
Ecologist Cal De Witt once pointed out while visiting Trinity Western that the most famous man ever to walk this earth likewise held field trips in high esteem. You can read about his famous field trips in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John!