Visiting a farm is a perfect way to connect Canadians with their food and those who produce it; but unfortunately, doing this in person is not always possible. Using 360° cameras and virtual reality technology, the FarmFood360° website gives Canadians the chance to tour real, working farms and food processing plants, all without having to leave their homes or classrooms.
Canadians looking to get behind the scenes and learn more about how their food is produced on family farms have three more opportunities available to them now at www.FarmFood360.ca. Three new Virtual Reality Tours filmed last summer on Ontario beef, chicken and turkey farms have been added to the popular website, joining the 15 farm and food processing tours already on the site.
Browsers can access the tours on tablets and desktop computers, as well as through mobile phones and VR (Virtual Reality) devices. An additional 12 traditional videos have just added to supplement the 360° feature tours that include interviews with the farm families, explanations on where their animals live and what they eat and conversations about their day to day chores on the farm. Veterinarians, nutritionists and other experts join the farm families in explaining their roles in caring for animals on these farms.
The new beef tour visits both an Ontario cow-calf farm and a feedlot farm. Rob Lipsett, President of Beef Farmers of Ontario, describes their new online resource as a great way to showcase two primary types of beef farms to the public who might not otherwise have the opportunity to tour a farm in real life. “We’re proud of our farms and our beef farming families. We want the public and our consumers to know how we raise beef cattle responsibly and how our grasslands support and protect the environment. We want our consumers to make informed decisions and feel good about their choice to put beef on their plates. This new tool will open barn doors in a way we haven’t been able to do before.”
The second tour takes people on an immersive experience into an Ontario farm raising broiler (meat) chickens. Videos explain what chickens eat, how they’re cared for and highlights a special program called CFO Cares Farmers to Food Banks that encourages farmers to donate fresh meat to local food banks. “Due to the strict biosecurity practices put into place on-farm to protect our birds from outside diseases, we’re often unable to take visitors into our barns for personal tours. This new virtual reality chicken farm tour helps show our industry’s commitment to quality and transparency,” said Ed Benjamins, Chair of Chicken Farmers of Ontario.
In the turkey tour, the farm family takes guests through both their poult barn (young birds) and their grow-out barn for more mature birds. They talk about their life as a farm family and the daily routine on their farm. Brian Ricker, Chair of Turkey Farmers of Ontario, said that consumers often don’t know very much about turkey farming, because there are only about 160 farmers in the province. “We’re proud of our industry and our farmers who work hard year-round to put turkey on the plates of Canadian consumers,” Brian said. We are excited about this new immersive program that will showcase turkey farming to a much broader audience.
Already in 2020, the tours have received more than 2.5 million views from 750,000 users. This is a 300 percent increase compared to the same time period in 2019 and reflects Canadians turning online for their education and entertainment needs.
This project was funded, in part, through the AgriCompetitiveness program of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal, provincial, territorial initiative.