Canada Agriculture and Food Museum – Partners of the Ottawa running community

There are so many amazing spots to explore as a runner in our National Capital Region, but one treasured location always seems to stand out for Ottawa locals and in-the-know tourists. It’s right in the heart of the city (it’s also one of the only places you can go, en masse, to talk to cows – but more on that later.)

Of course with that criteria, we could only be talking about the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum– a unique and functional research farm steps away from downtown Ottawa.

The Museum’s relationship with the running community goes beyond simply serving as a location where people can hit the trail with their Fitbits. To help us see the whole picture, Kerry-Leigh Burchill, Director General of the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, carved time out of her busy schedule to talk about  how the Museum and the running community have been coming together in Ottawa for years.

“This connection started around 2014, when we made a five year commitment to promote food literacy, which to us includes a component for healthy active living,” says Burchill. “For visitors to the Museum, that means ensuring that children, adults and seniors have opportunities to be active on-site.”

As such, the Museum fosters programming that encourage people to move and exercise more – think of Goat Yoga.

Viral goat adorable-ness aside, local runners can enjoy the monthly Run Ottawa Saturday 5K event, Emilie’s Run, and the 5/15 Farm Run on the grounds.  For Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend, the Museum is also opening up its doors for all runners and their families with a 2-for-1 pass May 25th-26th 2019.

Much in alignment with the Museum’s mandate, a healthy diet (of course) is very important to runners. When you’re training, getting the right combination of proteins, carbohydrates and whole foods can make the difference. That’s where the Demonstration Kitchen events come in, where visitors get hands-on experiences.

The theme changes monthly, and is interactive, focusing on Canadian foods, like mustard seed. “Canada is the largest exporter of mustard seed in the world, and it has incredible health benefits, which we share with recipes and discussion,” explains Burchill.

“Our primary hope is that everyone visiting the Museum comes to understand agriculture for what it contributes to our quality of life. It’s what we eat, it’s the clothes we wear, it’s energy, medicine, it’s in our homes and vehicles,” she says. “Agriculture is relevant to every single person, and we want people to have an awareness and appreciation of agriculture and consider it as a viable career path – for engineers, nutritionists, entrepreneurs. It’s not just farming.”

Burchill also had some words of encouragement, and an invitation for everyone participating in Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend.  “We want most of all to encourage and congratulate them [the runners] whether they’ve been running for a long time, or if this is the very first race. It’s important that they are seeking out a happy, active lifestyle and that they are taking advantage of this beautiful space in Ottawa.”

Another perk? There’s always a chance to interact with animals at the Museum.  “People, in general, look forward to having some interaction with the animals here. There is a very rich exchange once they understand how the animal is being cared for and how their wellness is prioritized,” explains Burchill. “There’s an enriching experience that comes from people interacting in a safe way with the animals.”

Enter the Cow Whisperers, mentioned earlier.

“Every night, the dairy herd goes out to pasture at 5:15pm – people line up along the fences and encourage the cows and talk to the cows,” says Burchill. “This is a special part of the 5/15 Farm Run, and is something local runners can participate in regularly during the spring and summer seasons.”