Perth County farmers open bean-growing operation for virtual tour

Amy and David Arand have plenty of cutting-edge technology at their disposal on their family farm in Donegal, north of Stratford.

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Amy and David Arand have plenty of cutting-edge technology at their disposal on their family farm in Donegal, north of Stratford.

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But virtual reality?

That’s news.

The Arands grow beans and corn and also raise turkeys on their farm with a little help from their children, Dean and Dylan. They recently welcomed a film crew from Farm and Food Care Ontario to create an online tour of their operation in Perth County – now part of an industry-wide effort to teach people more about where local food comes from.

“It was a lot of fun,” Amy said this week. “They came with cameras and screens and lights and they came with drones and a special camera that gives a 360-degree view. It looks really weird because it looks like a ball on a stick.

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“I think we were more interested in watching the film crew than they were watching us,” she added, laughing. “It was just an experience that we probably never would have had if we hadn’t done it.”

The tour, available on YouTube and farmfood360.ca, allows viewers with or without a virtual reality headset to see 360-degree angles of the Arand family’s farm. The tour is accompanied by interviews with the family and lots of facts about dry beans, a member of the legume family that is also classified – along with chickpeas, lentils and dry peas – as a legume.

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Did you know that Canada exports beans to over 70 different countries? Or that there are approximately 1,000 farmers growing nine varieties of beans in Ontario?

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That’s the type of information Farm and Food Care Ontario wants to share.

The group — a coalition of farmers, agricultural organizations and food partners working to build public trust in food and agriculture — has created a total of more than 20 virtual tours of bean and potato farms as well as broiler farms across Ontario. , many filmed throughout 2022.

The Ontario Bean Growers, the Ontario Potato Board and the Ontario Broiler Chicken Hatching Egg Producers Association are also involved in the project. It was funded in part through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership’s AgriCompetitiveness program, a joint federal, provincial and territorial initiative.

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“Our growers take great pride in growing good, nutritious food for Canadians to enjoy, and it’s always great to teach people how that effort reaches them in their grocery store,” said Jennifer Mitchell of Ontario Bean Growers. “We were happy to be a part of this project so that Canadians across the country could see our work first hand.”

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Amy said the family “jumped” at the chance to take part.

“I think it’s important because I think a lot of people are getting some misinformation,” she said. “If people have a better understanding of where their food comes from, they’ll feel that it’s safe and healthy and that it’s grown right here at home, which is even better.”

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