Prospects sent to the farm

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:42 AM ET

What better place for Maple Leafs farmhands to grasp the healthy work ethic than on the farm itself?

About a dozen young prospects and draft picks will be spending a day in the fields at the Beretta Organic Farm in King City later this month as part of the club's annual development camp.

"It's going to be an educational, team-building day," Leafs strength and conditioning coach Matt Nichol said. "We're going to do some strong-man stuff; baling hay, pulling wagons and we're going to learn where food comes from, because it's such an important part of nutrition and lifestyle."

Nichol is from a non-farming part of Waterloo, but has used this farm exercise with success in the past. Farm operator Mike Beretta is a former South American soccer player and friend of Nichol's, who shares his passion for organic food, though Nichol stressed the aim of the trip is not to switch the Leafs from big steaks to bean stalks.

"It just means seeing how the food is grown without pesticides, seeing free-range animals and cows eating real grass," Nichol said. "The idea is 'you are what you eat.' Some of these kids don't know potatoes come from the ground or that a chicken isn't something you only see at KFC. I think it's going to be a lot of fun."

The two-week prospects camp, which begins Sunday, is once more being organized by Leafs player development coach Paul Dennis. On-ice activities will include power skating and skills' enhancement, while the players also will be attending seminars on character development, media awareness (with mock interviews) and cooking, as well as attending a Blue Jays game.

"Because we're coming off of a lockout, I think there will be even greater awareness for players and staff to prepare for the future," Dennis said.


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