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Understanding of Agriculture Differs Between Urban, Rural Populations

14 November 2012, at 2:28pm

CANADA - Research conducted by the University of Manitoba shows a difference between what urban and rural visitors understand about agriculture when they arrive at the Bruce D. Campbell Farm and Food Discovery Centre, writes Bruce Cochrane.

The University of Manitoba's Bruce D. Campbell Farm and Food Discovery Centre allows visitors to explore how food gets from the farm to our plates.

To understand how people learn about agriculture during leisure the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management is using personal meaning maps to gather and track visitors attitudes toward and knowledge of agriculture.

Dr Christine Van Winkle, an assistant professor in the faculty, suggests considering the transition from a predominantly rural community to a more urban community, we need to think more about how people learn about and understand agriculture.

Dr Christine Van Winkle-University of Manitoba:

Here within the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management one area within the recreation management field of study is leisure learning experiences, so what people learn during leisure experiences.

What we're interested in from our perspective is how people learn about agriculture during their leisure so in this case a visit to an interpretive centre.

We did find, as a result of a preliminary questionnaire, that there is a difference in what urban and rural visitors come to the centre understanding and their learning experience at the centre. This wasn't unexpected.

I think many people might expect that there's a difference between people who live in an urban environment like the city of Winnipeg and people who live in rural areas or on farms and their learning experience in an agricultural context but it was important to have evidence that there is in fact a difference between these two groups.

As we go forward and we look at these personal meaning maps we can begin to look at things like is there a difference between the way urban and rural visitors learned at the centre and that will hopefully allow the centre to develop programs that speak specifically to each of those two groups.

Dr Van Winkle expects to report on the research next spring.

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