With school trips cancelled some local farmers offer virtual farm visits

WELLINGTON NORTH – In the absence of school trips due to the pandemic, two area farms are offering virtual trips so children can learn about farming and where their food comes from.

Amanda Twiss and her husband James bought Mapletwiss Farm in 2018.

It’s located in Damascus, northeast of Arthur, where they raise cattle, pigs and chickens and sell direct from the farm gate – although with COVID-19, it’s online or by appointment.

Their dream is to open a store on site and offer the opportunity for customers to see the farm and the animals. They had their first season in 2019.

“Last year (2020) was to be our big year,” Twiss said in an interview.

That didn’t happen, of course, and in an effort to keep her son Colton, 10, gainfully occupied during stay-at-home orders, Twiss and her son started making videos about farm life.

Colton is particularly animated when he talks about raising chickens.

Twiss said she originally posted the videos on Instagram, but almost immediately got requests from teacher-friends asking if she could post videos in a format they could share with their classes.

Amanda and James Twiss with their children Colton and Kherington. Mapletwiss Farm is producing videos about farm life for teachers to use in class. Submitted photo


“So now I’ve created a YouTube page,” Twiss said, adding she’s surprised how quickly it has gained traction.

“It really came about as something Colton and I could do.”

Twiss and her husband are not teachers, but the couple is involved with 4-H and they produced a video as part of the Arthur Agricultural Society’s virtual fall fair.

“We’re heavily involved in agriculture and education,” Twiss said. “We saw an opportunity to share what we’re learning on the farm.”

Twiss is developing the videos based on elementary school curriculum.

They are currently geared to kindergarten students, but even grown-ups are likely to learn something new.

The series is called Fun Facts and Farm Chats and can be found by searching “Mapletwiss Farm” on YouTube. The farm is also on Facebook and Instagram.

Jess and Ryan Pfisterer had a similar thought about bringing their farm to students during COVID-19.

Pfisterer Farm is also located near Damascus and the couple moved there in 2019.

Jess Pfisterer said it was talking with friends that got her thinking about making videos.

“I’ve been hearing about the struggle with online learning, for teachers and parents,” she said in an interview.

“I started thinking about TikTok and how you can learn so much in a one-minute video.

“So, I consulted with some educators to come up with something that’s tied to the curriculum.”

Her one-minute videos are geared to students from Grades 1 to 3.

Jess, Ryan and Boone Pfisterer have opened Pfisterer Farm School, a series of videos to help teachers and parents with online learning. At 18 months old, Boone didn’t really have much to do with it. Submitted photo


“They remind me of those Heritage Minutes – short and impactful. Kids can’t sit still very long,” she said.

Pfisterer said she and her husband are committed to regenerative, sustainable practices and are keen to connect with the community.

“I grew up in the city and didn’t have access to this, so I really wanted to give people a way to spend a fun, family day at the farm,” she said.

Their long-term vision is to have community days on the farm to reinforce the message of farm to fork and using local food sources.

She has one video posted on their website, www.pfistererfarm.com, and will launch Pfisterer Farm School (also on the website) on Jan. 25 with 15 more videos.

The videos are free, and parents are invited to use them as a resource, as well as teachers.