Friday, June 22, 2007

Foodland Ontario Expansion - Week 5, Summer Crop Tour Game

Wheat producers in Ontario see golden opportunities with today’s announcement from the Ontario Agriculture Minister to extend the Foodland Ontario brand to include baked goods. Different kinds of wheat are used to make specific baked products. In Ontario, farmers grow six different types of wheat – making our province the most diverse wheat-growing region in North America. This week, the different varieties of wheat are visible in farmers’ fields. Some will resemble tall green grass, while other crops are maturing and will be ready for harvest in July. Ontario wheat is used in many baked goods, from cookies and cakes to bagels and bread. Ontario residents are invited to visit to learn how they can win prizes while learning about agriculture this summer.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Biodiesel – Week 4, Summer Crop Tour Game

Farmers may soon be trading soybeans and canola grown in their fields for biodiesel to be used in their trucks and tractors thanks to EVERPURE Biodiesel Co-op, which is coming to the Caledon area. Biodiesel is an environmentally-friendly renewable fuel made from oilseeds like Ontario soybeans and canola. Biodiesel reduces harmful greenhouse gases and can be used in all diesel engines, from tractors and transport trucks, to buses and diesel-fuelled cars and trucks. This week, these Ontario soybean plants are “emerging” from the soil, and straight rows of small green plants are visible from the roadside. Soybeans are harvested in September for foods like veggie burgers, as well as animal feed and oil that can be processed into biodiesel. Ontario residents are invited to visit to learn how they can win prizes while learning about agriculture this summer.”

Read more at:

Monday, June 11, 2007

Wheat fields “head” – Week 3, Summer Crop Tour Game

“Wheat farmers are working with an Ontario Weather Network this year to keep fields in peak condition. A new online service allows wheat farmers to enter data collected on their farms – such as rain levels and temperatures– to calculate which of their fields they need to watch more closely. The tool helps farmers ensure they produce safe, quality wheat that Ontario’s food processing industry has come to rely on. This week Ontario wheat will begin to “head”. Grains will start to fill in at the top of the plant, growing bigger and fuller. After heading, the plant will flower and pollinate itself in preparation for growing its seed, which is harvested later in the season. Ontario wheat seed is ground into flour and used for baked goods such as cookies, crackers, and cakes. Ontario residents are invited to visit to learn how they can win prizes while learning about agriculture this summer.”

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

New study shows Ontario’s farmers are environmental leaders

Better farming practices reduce greenhouse gas emissions taking 125,000 cars off the road

Guelph, Ontario, June 5, 2007 - A new study, Caring for the Land – Our Farm Environmental Commitment, shows that Ontario’s farmers are environmental leaders.

Greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced by the equivalent of taking 125,000 cars off the road through improved soil conservation measures. Farmers have spent at least $600 million on environmental improvements and 300,000 days in environmental training. Over 70% of them have voluntarily participated in the Environmental Farm Plan program.

“This report reveals the tip of the iceberg,” stated Jackie Fraser, Executive Director of Agricultural Groups Concerned About Resources and the Environment (AGCare) who conducted the study. “There are so many farmers doing great things for the environment; this report merely scratches the surface.”

The study was released today to celebrate Canadian Environment Week. The entire report, a summary booklet, case studies, and other information are available on – a new website also launched today.

“Who in society is more dependent on a healthy environment than farmers? Our families live, work, and play on our farms, and our livelihood depends on healthy soil, air, and water,” stated Murray Porteous, a fruit and vegetable farmer. “Farmers know the importance of sustaining the quality of their environment and treating it with respect.”

AGCare is an environmental organization that represents Ontario's 45,000 farmers, providing science and research-based information and policy initiatives on environmental issues on behalf of its membership.

Funding for this project was provided in part by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through the Agricultural Adaptation Council.

No-till planting – Week 2, Summer Crop Tour Game

“Ontario farmers have reduced greenhouse gas emissions that are equal to taking more than 45,000 cars off the road each year. That’s thanks to a shift in farm environmental practices like no-till planting, says a study by Guelph-based agricultural organization, AGCare. No-till planting means that corn stalks and other materials from last year’s crops are left on top of the soil where the nutrients help plants and soil stay healthy. No-till planting also helps reduce carbon that is naturally released into the air when some fields are ploughed. Less tractor fuel is also required. Ontario residents can see no-till planting in action this week as farmers plant black beans, navy beans, and other bean varieties in Southwestern areas of the province. Ontario residents are invited to help farmers celebrate Canadian Environment Week next week by visiting to learn how they can win prizes while learning about agriculture this summer.”

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Yesterday in the Cobourg Daily Star...

Joe Urban Dweller loves to eat and play, paying for all of that by working.

Now, a Northumberland woman is helping demonstrate how the agriculture industry impacts what Joe Urban Dweller - and everyone else - does in daily life.

Farmers Feed Cities '07 is aiming to tell the urban dweller what is happening in the fields he passes as he heads out on a road trip to work or play, Laura Kapteyn says.

"Farmers are feeding lifestyle, they're feeding the economy. They're fueling cities and they're improving the environment," Ms. Kapteyn says. She's a human resources management graduate with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. Now. she's a marketing and communications assistant on the two-year-old Farmers Feed Cities (FFC) campaign.

She's helping to write material for the FFC road trip summer campaign, a series of 60-second spot-news blurbs to help people understand the the fields as the summer progresses: "It's showing people how the regular things they do in their day-to-day life are connected to agriculture."

Farming affects the playground of the urban community, Ms. Kapteyn says.

"Farmers have that deep commitment to the earth, the places where we play, those big open spaces that people enjoy, the farmer has a stake in those big open spaces," adds Lisa McLean, the communications manager of the grains and oilseeds sector's Farmers Feed Cities campaign.

"One in seven jobs is connected to agriculture," she notes. And, "there is a lot of industry that depends on agriculture. Eating (all aspects of the food industry) is the obvious one.

"Farmers are stewards of the land," promoting greener technologies which improve the breathing environment for society, Ms. McLean points out. "We're going to be explaining that over the summer."

That explanation will also offer a free game card, downloaded from the FFC website, for people to play when they're heading down the road.

People can win prizes by participating.

Ms. Kapteyn will also be organizing displays, dispensing materials and ensuring FFC is an ongoing presence at the many venues it visits in the year, including Northumberland's August Rural Ramble and the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto in November.

"I've always been passionate about educating people about agriculture," Ms. Kapteyn, the daughter of (former) dairy farmers Pete and Ingrid Kapteyn of Colborne, says.

"The slogan provokes conversation. 'Farmers Feed Cities' gets people talking, " she says.

The program's sound bites address planting, harvesting and environmental practices taking place roadside "in quick little news bites" available Thursdays at noon and ready for broadcast on Friday, Ms. McLean says.

"CTV told us they'd love to cover more agriculture, but they want something quick they can read on the air."

The campaign is committed to providing interesting, informative and succinct news bites about "why and how farmers do what they do" . It promises, "Our 60- second news spots will be waiting in your inbox by 11 a.m. every Thursday from May 24 through Sept 13."

Listeners/viewers are invited to participate in a contest by downloading a free gamecard each week from . Weekly prizes of Farmers Feed Cities merchandise will be awarded, as well as one grand prize, which promotes Ontario tourism.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Musings from the Ag Awareness Conference

Less than 1% of Canadians are farmers. 100% of Canadians eat.

Water, food and shelter and the three basic needs for survival and Canadians rely on less than 1% of the population to not only ensure a safe and accessable food supply but these people also protect our water sources through land stewardship. What an incredible group of people to care about the health of their country's people everyday they go to work.

When I think about farming this way, I am amazed by the farmers I work with even more. Farmers work tirelessly to produce food for Canadians under strict government health and environmental regulations even though other countries can undercut their market without the same regulations impeding them. Our farmers support and uphold our regulations because our standards ensure quality and safety for Canadians.

When pets die because we import tainted Chinese wheat gluten it means we aren't holding other countries to the same standards. What is the point of our farmers working so hard to produce high quality food if Canadians buy foreign products that are obviously not held to the same standard? Is the slightly higher price we pay for the quality and safety of Canadian products too high?

Each time a food scare is reported I vow all over again to choose the food grown at home when I have the choice. I hope you will do the same.