The ECFWA board of directors met earlier this week and I am pleased to announce that we’re going to be heading to Ottawa for 2018 AGM – please mark May 14th and May 15th on your calendar. This year the format for AGM will be a little different. Organizers are scheduling the AGM business meeting and elections for Monday evening and on Tuesday we will be travelling to Parliament Hill. Kelsey Johnson is heading up the AGM committee and will be sharing details in the near future.
Thanks to Rachel Telford, we had 2 great regional socials in the fall- one during the week of the International Plowing Match and one in Woodstock after Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show. We’re going to try 2 more this spring-- one in conjunction with the Western Fair Farm show in London and one at the Ottawa Valley Farm show in Ottawa. Look forward to connecting with all of you at these events!
ECFWA will be hosting the CFWF conference in 2020. It sounds like a long way off, but it will be here before you know it. Possible locations being considered so far include Northern Ontario, Stratford, Windsor and Muskoka Region for fall 2020. If you have any ideas or suggestions for CFWF 2020 please send them our way.
Podcasts are a new way for agriculture advocates and farm journalists to share their stories. ECFWA hosted a professional development session in November that was designed to introduce members to the concept of creating their own podcast. The event was attended by 30 people, and another five participated through the Go To Meeting option that was made available for the session.
Wendell Schumm, creator of the Ontario AgCast, explained how he got into podcasting and described how he uses his podcast to address current issues within the agricultural industry. Mark Carter, web coordinator for Grain Farmers of Ontario, helped participants understand the equipment needed to create a podcast and offered tips on how to get the most out of an inexpensive set-up.
The podcast session was followed by a tour of Wallenstein Feed & Supply and their new Mill 4. Schumm, who is Wallenstein’s Ruminant Division manager, acted as our guide and provided insights into the feed industry. He noted Wallenstein is continuously adapting their products to ensure they are meeting the nutritional needs of the animals on the farms they supply feed to.
Thank you to Wallenstein Feed Supply for hosting our professional development session on site and providing attendees with lunch.
ECFWA is planning to hold another professional development session in early 2018. If you have ideas for future sessions, please email Rachel Telford, ECFWA 2 nd vice president, firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s only 8:30 am, and English is the third language Guy Pouliot has spoken this morning. The French native owns Onésime Pouliot Petits Fruits with his brother, Daniel.
Pouliot is the first host stop on day of farm tours in Quebec’s historic and picturesque Ile-d’Orléans. A busload of farm writers has descended on his property, and he’s graciously agreed to tell us about his business, which grows blueberries, strawberries and raspberries as well as sweet potatoes.
His farm’s products are available in major food chains throughout Quebec and the Maritimes and parts of the United States. They’ve provided neutral day strawberries for some time, but it’s the newest advancement – raspberries that are regularly in season – that he’s most excited about.
“Usually field raspberries taste good but they have a poor shelf life,” he says. “Pick today, sell today, eat today. Maybe tomorrow.”
But the Pouliots have found a workaround. Since 2008 they’ve been working with soilless raspberries. He says they perfected the “recipe” in 2015. Now the focus is on growing that market. This will be a game-changer, he says, and it stands to transform and grow the industry. He pauses, at a loss for the English word he’s looking for, and Spanish comes out.
“I spend half my days in Spanish,” he shrugs. He adds, “without Mexican workers, we would not be here. We couldn’t’ have grown without our Mexican workers.”
As Pouliot continues, he falls into a pattern of sometimes pausing to crowdsource a word or two. He tells us about his first trip to Mexico to hire workers in 2003. Of those original five, the third one moved on only last year, and it’s clear he misses the men, whom he had come to think of as friends. When he doesn’t know a word – which doesn’t happen often -- he pauses to say it softly in French, or sometimes Spanish. Farm writers volley synonyms back and forth until Pouliot nods to accept the word he was looking for.
This is how the rest of the day unfolds. It sets a tone of fluid language and hospitality at each stop. There is the cheese shop, fromages de I’sle d’Orleans, where we sample North America’s first cheese. A husband and wife in period dress explain – he in French, she in English – how they mimic processing conditions so the cheese they make today is made as closely as possible to its original recipe. We enjoy the language of music over lunch at Relais des pins, a sugar shack.
The orchard and cidery Le Domaine Orleans: “trees have beautiful stories,” we’re told, while we learned about cider production, passing through an orchard with a view, while a few families wander the trees in search of the last of the season’s apples. And Maison Cassis Monna and Filles, where we hear about black currants and black currant preserves and liqueurs.
Language was more proficient at some stops than others, but slight fumbles never stopped good stories. Thank you to ECFWA for planning a brilliant day of tours in an area of Quebec I likely would not have ventured on my own. My only regret – other than my own lack for French language skills – is that conference attendees had to choose only one of three excellent tour options.
--Lisa McLean is an Ontario-based freelance writer, and the grateful recipient of ECFWA’s conference bursary for 2017.