Message from the FARMED Chair
FARMED Annual General Meeting & Social Networking Event held on May 27th at Moose Meadows Farm
FARMED hosted its Annual General Meeting and a Social Networking Event on May 27, 2023 at Moose Meadows Farm.
FARMED is pleased to announce the 2023 Board of Directors:
- Lynda Atkinson
- Heloise Dixon-Warren
- Lori Fogarty
- Joleen Morrison
- Paula Guilbeault-Roballo
FARMED 2023 Chair Report
It is an absolute honor and privilege to stand before you today as we gather for our Annual General Meeting. As the President of this esteemed organization, I am humbled by the opportunity to address you and share some thoughts on our collective journey.
I do not think that introduction really sounds quite like me, and in fact, I did not write that. I asked Chat GPT to write a President's report for FARMED, with no other instructions. I will not bother you with the whole speech but it goes on to mention my heartfelt gratitude to each one of you for your unwavering support and dedication to the cause of sustainable agriculture. I agree whole heartedly with that sentiment and do thank you all for your many, many hours of volunteer work that you have done.
I mention Chat GPT because it is an example of one of the new technologies that we as farmers and community members must learn about, use in ways that benefit our work and our ability to provide food sustainability. We have stumbled through learning how to use email, and you laugh at that probably but once it was a challenge for most of us, but no longer, online meeting spaces like Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams. I think it is important to know that there are many people, of all ages, who still do not use these platforms, and may never use them. At the same time there are 18-month-old children who have their own cell phones and know quite well how to use them. Though we may never be able to afford our dream computer driven solar powered weeder, I am not too sure that Lee Valley or Vesey or some other enterprise will find a source, in a few years, probably in South East Asia, where they are manufacturing small computer driven solar powered weeders for under $1500. The technology can only go so far though in many of the skills that each of us use every day. For example, we can collect semen, centrifuge it, add an extender, and ship it across country to produce a foal or calf from a bull or stallion in Ontario and a mare or cow in Prince George. I say Prince George because cooled semen does not last long enough to successfully get to Quesnel because of flight issues. But people helped collect the semen, judge the timing right, and then get it into the mare or cow. There are so many ways that technology might help us, but as basically small farmers, we are the important cog in this wheel of food sustainability. If only Chat GPT could do our grant writing for us. FARMED members work so hard to get the funds to develop the projects that we collectively need to help get our products to market, fund our spring crop planting and keep our families well fed and housed.
As a cattle rancher and horse breeder, for years our family went to work five days a week, and at the same time checked the cows in freezing weather two or three times a night, dragged calves out of freezing snow banks or cleaned big stalls in the barn so they were not being born in the snow. Now we have a television we watch if we have a difficult birth. And we got smarter; we bred cows to bulls with expected progeny differences (EPD) for calving ease, and we turn the bulls out later, to get enough weight on those calves to sell in the fall, we choose cows with excellent milk production as well as beef rate of gain. All of this with the help of computer calculations, but we are still making the choices, buying the bulls, choosing the stallions.
In seed production, the research being done in Canada, and throughout the world is exciting. Using new techniques, like CRISPR, and other gene editing techniques we are skipping many generations of characteristic selection to speed up the process. I will give you just one small example. In drought years, oats can be a good hay crop. They are now producing a forage oat that makes it a much better hay crop. Crop specialists are producing crops that will grow in high salinity, in drought, shortening the growing season, withstanding variations in temperature, etc. All these new results we can take advantage of. However, what I want to say is that the small farmer is important in all these new opportunities. We can be more agile, can assess changes in climate, products and customer needs quickly and adapt. We can take care of our soil, the foundation of all our farming ventures, we can be innovators and at the same time traditionalists. FARMED, along with the Kersley Farmers Institute, Sprout Kitchen, the Forage Council, and the Ministry of Agriculture have worked together as a team to help our farmers be successful, to preserve our soil, to collaborate, to learn new techniques and review and refresh old skills as well.
So again, thank you to the collaborators, the grant writers, the detail people, the optimists, the agriculturists, and the people who just turn up for meetings. Without all of you farming would not be half as fun and even more hard work than we all know it is. And thank you to FARMED, a grass roots organization that has existed for 16 years now, and hopefully will continue for many years in the future.