Food chain starts here, some learn

Here's a chance to learn about agriculture, one farmer said.
CANFIELD -- If you don't know what you're looking at, please feel free to ask. That's the message George Houk wants to send to city residents who wander through the agriculture buildings at the Canfield Fair.
"The information and the interaction will be there for anyone who wants to partake of it," he said. "I'm sure they don't know that a 250-pound pig is only 51/2 months old."
Houk, a Springfield Township farmer whose family shows livestock and equipment at the fair, said he feels city residents often don't understand what they encounter at the fair's agriculture displays. And as a result, city residents tend to underestimate the importance of agriculture in Mahoning County and the world, Houk said.
"Too many people are satisfied in their own little world," he said. "They're satisfied to know that food comes from a grocery store and not a farm."
Agriculture, he said, is, "probably as important as air and water is to life."
Be inquisitive: Houk said that city residents should feel free to ask questions of any of the farmers at the fair. He added that many of the young people who participate in the junior fair also are willing to talk about agriculture with city residents.
"There's nothing that makes a 4-H Club member more proud than to talk about their projects," Houk said.
Junior Fair adviser Ralph Wince also said that city residents who attend the fair have the opportunity to acquire, "a somewhat better knowledge of where the food supply comes from."
"It helps to broaden the view on agriculture," he said. "People see that stuff after it's packed up, but they don't see the raw aspect of it."
Wince added that the young people involved in the junior fair also have a chance to learn about responsibility from their own agriculture exhibits.
"It teaches kids responsibility, having to feed that livestock project a minimum of twice a day," he said. "I really stand firm that it makes a kid grow up to be a responsible adult."
Benefits all: Fair Board President Joe Dickey Jr. said that the junior fair agriculture projects are, "for the education of these youngsters, and everybody, really." Dickey noted that the fair board enjoys giving farmers and young people the opportunity to show the product of their work in the agriculture buildings.
Houk, meanwhile, said he thinks the Canfield Fair has a great deal to offer to farmers, young people, and city residents.
"I think the Canfield Fair offers a unique opportunity to bring city and county together," he said.

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