The Star-Herald

Children have fun learning about agriculture in The County

MARS HILL, Maine — Students at Fort Street Elementary School in Mars Hill received a unique lesson on local agriculture on May 2 with a visit from Pam Townsend, president of Maine Agri Women.

Townsend visited several pre-K through fourth grade classrooms on May 2 to read the book “Applesauce Day” to children. The book, written by Lisa Amstutz and illustrated by Talitha Shipman, tells the story of Maria, a girl from the city who visits her grandmother in the country with her parents and siblings and learns to make applesauce from hand-picked farm apples.

Volunteers from Maine Agri Women spent much of this spring travelling to schools throughout Aroostook County and reading “Applesauce Day” as part of their efforts to educate children about local agriculture.

Every year, Maine Agriculture in the Classroom chooses a book as part of their “Read ME” initiative and distributes copies to local agriculture organizations and classrooms across the state. They receive funds to purchase the books through the sales of the specialty “AG 4 ME” license plates.

“Often when we ask children where their food comes from they’ll say, ‘The grocery store,’” Townsend said. “We explain to them that even though they buy their food at the grocery store, the food actually gets there because of the hard work of farmers who grow and provide food for us.”

After reading “Applesauce Day,” Townsend told the children many fun facts about apples such as how they’re harvested from late summer through early fall and are used for store-bought products including apple sauce, juice, cider and pies. Half of all commercially-grown apples, she said, are eaten fresh.

Students in Erin Johnson and Abigail Clockedile’s second-grade classrooms listened intently while Townsend read the story and had many facts to share about their own experiences with tasting and making applesauce.

“I like green apples because they’re sour,” said Mitchell Burtt, 7.

“My grandmother makes applesauce sometimes,” Jaxon Grass, 8, said.

At the end of each storytime, Townsend announced that the classrooms will keep the copies of “Applesauce Day” for their own use.

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