The Atlantic Canada Farm Writers’ Association presents: Building your Communications Toolbox

2012 Professional Development Day

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 ~ 10:00 am – 3:00 pm

Schnitzel Haus Restaurant*

153 Aulac Road, Aulac New Brunswick

 9:30 –   10:00 AM          Registration

10:00 – 12:00 PM           The Social Shift –Communicating is not what it used to be. We’ve evolved to an on-demand   reader who wants their news immediately, and wants to share their views right   away, in real time. What are you doing to keep up? Social media guru Andrew   Campbell, Fresh Air Media, will highlight the social media shift and how   it will affect you, your organization or business, and more importantly, your audience. He’ll also cover some important how-to ideas when talking about your brand, and how to take advantage of tools that are free to use.

12:00 – 1:00 PM             Buffet lunch – Enjoy the delicious variety of   food and mingling 

1:00 – 3:00   PM             Refreshing Newsletters –Want to add more oomph to your newsletter? Have it read more? Is it effectively spreading the word? Emily Brennan, associate with Cape Consulting Group will share her experiences developing and re-jigging newsletters for clients. She’ll also cover tips and tricks for organizing content and   designing a style that invites your reader.

Cost to attend   (payable at registration): $30, includes buffet lunch

Everyone is welcome! If you do any kind of communications work in agriculture, whether it’s direct market sales to consumers, newsletters for your ag organization membership or social media for your farm group, come and build your communications toolbox.

To help ensure your lunch, please register BEFORE Friday, December 7

with Andy Walker at awalker@pei.sympatico.ca
(Please indicate any food allergies or restrictions)

*Directions to Schnitzel Haus Restaurant

From NS and NB

  • From  Trans Canada Highway 2, take exit #513A (Aulac)
  • Merge/turn right off the ramp onto Highway 16
  • At the stop sign, you will see the restaurant directly in front of you (~ 100 m)

From PEI

  • Travel west from the Confederation Bridge on NB-Highway 16 towards Aulac (~ 65 km)
  • The highway will end at a stop sign directly in front of the restaurant.

How do you promote agriculture?

Loved these nice signs at the farm gate that welcomed us!

Open Farm Day was held in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Manitoba on Sunday. In the Maritimes, the sun was shining, the skies were blue and the breeze was brisk. It was a perfect day for a trip to the farm.

Even though I write about agriculture, I don’t live on a farm and I don’t have any relatives close by who farm. I try to make my kids aware about where their food comes from, but it’s a constant discussion, isn’t it? There isn’t a lot of ag education going on in my kids’ school, so Open Farm Day is a great chance for a bit of education, mixed in with a lot of fun.

Each of the farms had lots of great promotional material about agriculture — word searches, colouring books, fact sheets. My daughter scooped up all of the information she could find and talked about sharing it with some of her friends. I think next year, my husband and I will each take a carload of kids and their friends and head out to area farms during Open Farm Day.

So what do you do to educate the kids you know about food? What do you do to educate their friends?

In areas of the world where agriculture is more prominent, it may be easier to get in touch with farming. But agriculture in Atlantic Canada is small (but strong!). It takes a bit more effort to get our kids to link to their food.

That’s where the parents and the community come in to help. Whether it’s a community garden at the school, inviting a farmer in for Career Day or taking our kids to the corn maze, helping kids recognize, appreciate and know where their food comes from is an important job.

My son was endeared by this calf at Waldrow Dairy, near Sussex, N.B.
This calf was really more interested in seeing whether my daughter Olivia had a bottle of milk than she was in having her photo taken. Perryhill Farms, near Sussex, N.B.

Open Farm Day took root in NB

My daughter Olivia, who was three when this photo was taken, loved getting up close and personal with this lamb during Open Farm Day in 2003.

Over the last 12 years, an event celebrating local agriculture has spread across the country.

Open Farm Day is Sunday, Sept. 16. Several other provinces also hold Open Farm Day on the same weekend.

The first Open Farm Day in Canada was held in New Brunswick in 2000. Karen Davidge, a farmer near Fredericton, N.B., says one of her neighbour’s was on a fall trip to Maine when she heard about that state’s Open Farm Day. She collected promotional material — which described the one-day event as a time when farmers of all sectors open their gates and invite the general public to visit — and brought it home to New Brunswick, handing it over to Davidge.

Davidge was a member of the provincial farm organization’s education committee and the group took the idea and ran with it.

“We said, ‘let’s go for it’ and we did,” Davidge recalls. That year, 61 farms throughout the province opened their gates and 6,000 members of the public flocked in. The event expanded throughout Atlantic Canada, drawing in thousands of visitors. Looking back through some old stories, around 12,000 people visited farms during the Open Farm Days of the early 2000s.

Throwing open the farm gate and inviting the general public in can be a bit of a scary proposition for farmers. There’s a high threat of disease — who knows where all of those boots have walked and now they’re mingling among crops and livestock — a farmer’s income.

Open Farm Day was cancelled in New Brunswick in 2001 because of the outbreak of the highly contagious foot and mouth disease (which can infect cows, sheep, goats and hogs) in the United Kingdom. By implementing biosecurity measures like having visitors wash the bottom of their shoes in disinfectant or viewing poultry or hogs through windows, farmers still have the chance to showcase their work, keep their product safe and further educate the public about the importance of keeping their animals and plants secure.

The day as evolved into a family event, with many taking their young children to provide insight into where their food comes from. The exposure, say the farmers, is priceless. There is no better way for the general public to find out that it’s families just like themselves operating farms.

http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/financial/openfarmday/index.html

http://www.fermenbfarm.ca/?lang=en

http://www.meetyourfarmer.ca/openfarmday/

http://www.gov.pe.ca/af/openfarmday/index.php3?number=1023477&lang=E

My son Mark, two at the time, fell in love with feeding the calves at this dairy farm near Moncton during Open Farm Day in the early 2000s.

Atlantic Canada Farm Writers Annual Tour & AGM

ACFWA is approaching its second birthday! And indeed, where has the time gone?

Fredericton-area member Kim Waalderbos has put together an awesome day and a half tour for the Fredericton area. Apples, dairy, potatoes, local food, ice cream — we’re covered for a great tour and great learning.

ACFWA members are journalists, communicators, broadcasters and government relations professionals associated with the agricultural sector in Atlantic Canada. We’re the folks who write about farming, communicate about farming and have the best interests of the farming community at heart when we go to work each day. ACFWA is associated with the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation and the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists, so membership at the local level includes membership at the national and international levels.

The tour is next week, Thursday, June 14 and Friday, June 15. Registration, costs and other details are below. If you need a hotel room, email me at allison@finnamore.ca and I’ll send you our conference details.

Hope to see you in Fredericton, N.B. next week!

AGENDA

Thursday, June 14

9:30 a.m. Everetts Apples – The farm is a 200+ apple farm. A cool succession story as the younger generation is now exploring new technologies and growing ideas. They family operates a popular U-pick. They also have the most amazing views of the river and valley area. http://everettapples.com/
10:30 a.m. Travel to next stop
11:00 a.m. Scotch Lake Dairy  – Richard and Carol Boonstoppel: this couple branched away from his brothers   and the family dairy farm 15 years ago to strike out on their own. They bought a vacant dairy farm, set it up and have built the herd to milk around 70 cows today. What makes them special is they installed a Lely robotic   milking machine to milk their cows a year ago. Now they can run the herd with   just the two of them (well, and their five younger kids). Richard is also the chair of the Fredericton Dairy Management Group.
12:00 p.m. Travel and lunch (make sure to bring along a bit of money. Our lunch stop will be at a dairy bar and candy store. We’ll provide the sandwich, you provide dessert!)
1:30 p.m. Coburn’s – These folks are in Keswick Ridge. They have really cool story of how they made a   complete loop by integrating the different aspects of their farm. They have   computerized feed mill to make the feed for their 25,000 laying hens which provide bedding material for an in-vessel composting system — that also sources waste material from the farm’s on-site cider press, which is fed by their 10-acre apple orchard. Oh, and the family has put together a neat ag museum of sorts in the upstairs of the cider facility.
3:00 p.m. Travel
3:30 p.m. Real Food Connections – Real Food Connections believes that food should be seen as a   whole, not just the sum of its parts. It’s about food being enjoyable and not merely for fueling ourselves with the right combination of nutrients for peak performance. It’s about knowing what we eat, and not turning a blind eye to   the list of ingredients we can’t pronounce. It’s about learning where our   food comes from and how it’s grown. At Real Food Connections, they work to   make local quality food accessible to the general public. They’re also a resource for local food education. http://realfoodsfredericton.ca/2010/.
4:30 p.m. Return to hotel
5:00 p.m. Depart for supper
5:30 p.m. Supper

Friday, June 15

7:30 a.m. ACFWA Annual Meeting – General business and election of officers
8:30 a.m. Potato Research Station – We’ll explore some of the latest potato research and see what technologies will be available just around the corner.
10:00 a.m. Travel to next stop
10:30 a.m. Scott’s Nursery has the largest selection of plant material east of Montreal. The nursery is a huge stopping point for plant buffs from all over. A very family-oriented operation. Mr. Scott himself just won the ‘hospitality’ award at this year’s Agricultural Alliance of NB annual meeting for all the great things he does to promote agriculture to visitors. http://www.scottsnursery.nb.ca/main.asp.
12:00 p.m. Homeward bound

Cost: Register for the tour + one year ACFWA membership: $50. Details on membership benefits and a member registration form are here: http://www.acfwa.ca/join

Register for the tour only: $20

Travel during the tour: In an effort to keep costs down, we’re going to be car pooling during our visits. Our starting point each day will be the AGM hotel: Lakeview Inn and Suites located at 665 Prospect Street in Fredericton. http://www.lakeviewhotels.com/hotels.php?entry_id=3159

Pre-registration is required for catering purposes

To register for the ACFWA Car Tour on June 14 and 15, please send the following information to, Trudy Kelly Forsythe at trudan@nbnet.nb.ca.

  • Name:
  • Cell phone number (to be used only if we need to reach you during the tour):
  • Are you able to be one of our drivers?
  • How many people can you transport in your vehicle?
  • The registration fee is payable at the time of the event.

 

Maple Syrup Dreams

When I met recently with colleagues from the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists in Berlin, there was much talk about maple syrup. It may have been because we discovered the wonderful drink, firewater, or… well, no, the discussion about maple syrup definitely came from the firewater conversation.

It’s easy to take what we have for granted and I forgot how novel the notion is of harvesting sap from a tree and turning it into sweet syrup. Eastern Canadians share the annual spring tradition of pulling on our rubber boots, usually one of the first times we wear them after shedding the winter boots, and heading into the barren woods for a walk to the sugar shack.

Timing is everything with maple syrup production. The night temperatures must drop below freezing and temperatures during the day must be above freezing. The see-saw on the thermometre is what makes the sap in the tree begin to flow after its winter’s rest. Depending on the weather, the sap could run for many weeks.

Maple syrup facts and history

My most memorable spring maple syrup memory is from when I was about 12-years-old. I had a mouth full of braces — the big, heavy braces that felt and looked like railroad tracks. They came with the firm instructions: no gum and nothing sticky to eat.

I was at a sugar camp and when it was time for some maple candy, the owner of the camp passed the first, sticky, gooey piece to me. Of course I took it. Of course it hauled the cemented-braces right off my teeth. Of course my parents were upset and of course, I was at the orthodontist the very next day to have the cement reapplied. But of course, for maple candy, I would do it all over again in an instant.

These are photos from a couple of years ago when my son’s Cub group went the the maple sugar woods.

 Heading into the muddy woods

 The sap lines snaking through the bare tress

 A gentle tap into the tree

 Before producers used tap lines, they put buckets directly on to the trees. Some small producers still do, while others only do a few trees to demonstrate past practices.

 The evaporator. It’s not operating in this shot or it would be a room full of steam

Maple candy in the snow

Farm Writers in Atlantic Canada

Have you ever had the experience of working with people who are so excited and enthused about a project that it rubs off on you? I love that feeling.

I had that experience earlier this week when I had a conference call meeting with three people from Atlantic Canada. Together, we’re working to start a regional branch of our national farm writers’ guild, the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation (CFWF).

Up front, I have to say that the desire to start our own group is in no way a reflection of the branch we currently belong to, the Eastern Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation (ECFWA). The simple vastness of Canada and the geographic divide between the majority of our current ECFWA members means farm writers in Atlantic Canada feel disconnected.

Personally, the desire to gather together with some of our own is inspired by ECFWA, as well as CFWF and our international group, the International Federation of Agriculture Journalists (IFAJ). Once I experienced gatherings with like-minded individuals, I felt the aspiration to do it more often with those closer to me.

Not all farm writers in Atlantic Canada are onboard with the formation of a regional group. Some have said they want to maintain connections with former colleagues within ECFWA, while others may not be interested in the work involved in setting up a new organization (not that anyone has said that to me, I’m just speculating). I hope they’ll reconsider.

The folks I met with earlier this week are keen and ready to get a local group formed. We’re pooling our talents to host a day of farm and research centre tours on June 4.

Early in my career when I wrote for daily newspapers from rural New Brunswick, I kept hearing the untold stories of farmers and opted to help be one of their voices. From that, I found out about CFWF and that connection eventually led me to focus my career on agriculture writing.

Through CFWF, I’ve toured farms across the country, met agriculture experts and associates, gained writing and editing jobs and met hundreds of Canadian farmers. I’ve also met a lot of great people and developed some very good friendships.

Cumulatively, what the organizations have given me inspire me to help create like opportunities for farm writers in Atlantic Canada. I hope we’ll create a network, come to count on each other and grow opportunities for ourselves.

Then together, we can help farmers tell their stories about the food they grow for us.