The Farm Kid Paradox: growing up on a farm has so many benefits, but it is also dangerous

In these times of pandemic challenges, including school closures and virtual classes, many more children are spending their days on the farm.

The pandemic has become a major challenge for farm parents over the past year.

Melissa Ploeckelman with the National Farm Medicine Center calls it the “farm kid paradox”.

According to Ploeckelman, “Right now, that is our hot topic... We’re looking at the farm kids paradox, we call it. It is great to raise kids on the farm. There are so many benefits... We actually are doing a research project right now that’s proving that children that grow up on farms are less likely to have allergies and asthma. We know that they get a better work ethic. We know that they really understand where their food comes from. However, it is one of the most hazardous places for children to grow up as well.”

Farm safety now includes setting new boundaries for the kids.

“You can tell a child, don’t go off the lawn, don’t go on the gravel, or you can tell them, don’t go past this tree, but when grandpa or Auntie Janie comes down the driveway with a tractor, they’re so excited to see that person and they go running out there,” she explains. “They forget those rules, so to speak, and there’s so many blind spots with this big machinery, and that’s when a very innocent situation can become a hazardous one.”

It will take more time she says to find out if the numbers have become worse during the pandemic, but her organization is hearing more stories of children getting injured because they are home.