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 and I’ll send you our conference details.

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


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.
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.
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.
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:

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.

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

  • 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.


A blogging course — Really?

I’m lucky to have a strong professional network through the Professional Writers’ Association of Canada (PWAC) and the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation (CFWF).

I have trusted peers locally, nationally and internationally who I can call on for help, advice, support and friendship. Or a glass of wine or bottle of beer.

A couple of PWAC colleagues, Wendy and Trudy, and I decided we were looking for just a bit more oomph from our network. We wanted to find someway to carry on that enthusiasm we get from professional development workshops, conferences and meetings. You know that high when ideas flow just by having a discussion with like-minded entrepreneurs? We wanted to bottle it and drink deeply every week.

Last November, we started to meet once a week via Skype. So far, so good, although in some ways, we’re still finding our groove.

When we met last week and Wendy talked about taking a blogging course, my initial reaction (that I kept to myself) was, “a blogging course — really?? Why do you need a blogging course? Just jump in and do it!” But Wendy was excited about it, the course came with high recommendation from another PWAC colleague and I was happy that Wendy was finally going to start working towards her goal of setting up a blog. Trudy asked for the course information and I did too.

I changed my attitude about the validity of a blogging course when I checked out the outline and realized it would answer many questions I’ve been wondered about blogging, but just hadn’t gotten around to answering on my own. Making the switch to Word Press, syndication, effective use of widgets… stuff I could probably get a handle on myself — probably someday — were all nicely packaged into a six week course.

Sign me up! I’m in.

And that’s the beauty of a good network of support. They’re always inspiring, even when you least expect it and when you’ve let your support for the others slip a little.

New IFAJ contest addresses hot ag topic

It’s a question the agricultural industry — including journalists and communicators — has been asking repeatedly lately. It’s even a topic that has spilled into mainstream media as analysts examine the topic.

Experts say agricultural production must double during the next 40 years. How does the world continue to feed its growing population?

As our work as agricultural journalists and communicators leads us to examine this question, the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) has unveiled a new contest, the IFAJ Award for Reporting on Sustainable World Agriculture. The award will recognize excellence in work that examines issues-based questions each year.

The IFAJ Award for Reporting on Sustainable World Agriculture is open to articles, internet productions or radio/TV broadcasts on the broad topics of hunger, feeding the world sustainably and meeting the challenge of providing nutrition to a growing world population.

This new award provides a unique professional development opportunity for all IFAJ members to participate in a broad-based contest that is relevant to current global issues — the goal of higher food production with a lower carbon footprint.

Entries to this year’s contest must address the following theme:
“How to feed a still growing world population? Can we double agricultural production towards 2050? Experts say we must double agricultural production during the next 40 years in order to avoid hunger and in order also to produce agricultural products for energy purposes. At the same time agricultural land will only increase slightly, and water may be an even more limited resource.”

Individual IFAJ members from countries with paid-up memberships are eligible to enter. This means national guilds are not required to have a judging or selection process to decide on an entry to go forward. One entry per member is allowed.

Entries may be a written article, a radio program or a television/internet production.

Entries should touch on the broad themes of hunger, feeding the world sustainably or meeting the challenge of providing nutrition to a growing world population. Entries can be macro (global, regional or national) or micro (local) points of view. Entries may focus on a broad array of topics including food supply and demand, trade, production agriculture practices and policy.

Judging will be based on objectivity, balance, content, clarity and relevance to the theme. Solid organization, depth of reporting and brightness of style will be examined. Entries have no length (words, minutes, etc.) requirement, but must have been published or aired in one (print) issue or single broadcast; series of reports are ineligible.

Entries must have been published or aired between January 1, 2010 and June 1, 2011. In this first year of the award, entries scheduled to be published or aired no later than December 31, 2011 are also eligible.

All entries must be written or spoken in English. The committee of judges will consider less perfect English from participants whose primary language is not English. Entry deadline is June 15, 2011.

The following information must be provided in the e-mail to which the article is attached:

  • Name, address, e-mail address and telephone number of the entrant;
  • Name of IFAJ member association of which the entrant is a member;
  • Name of publication, broadcast station or Web site where entry was published or aired;
  • Date and/or issue of broadcast, posting, airing, or publication;
  • The intended audience for the entry (consumers? farmers?)
For print entries, the layout and design will not be considered in the judging.
Entries, submitted in electronic format such as PDF or MP3, must be submitted to:
International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ)
c/o Secretary General Owen Roberts, University of Guelph, Guelph, Canada
email: owen(at)

An email directing judges to the entry via a link to broadcast sites such as is also acceptable.


Cash prizes for first (3,000 euro), second (1,500 euro) and third place (750 euro) will be awarded, with the winners of the contest announced at the 2011 IFAJ Congress in Canada, September 2011. IFAJ will publish the names of the winners and will publish their work at IFAJ reserves the right to use the entries and subsequent critiques in future professional development activities.


A panel of three judges will form an independent committee. The judging panel is lead by distinguished professor Henning Otte Hansen, senior adviser at the Institute of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen. Other judges will be selected from North/South America, and Africa/Asia/Australia/New Zealand.

Applications for Young Journalist Award now being accepted

Are you:

     • 35 or younger?
     • A member of the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation?
     • Interested in boosting your ag journalism or communications career?

The Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation (CFWF) is now accepting applications for the 2011 IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Agriculture Journalism Award.

CFWF will select one entry from the Canadian applications for further judging by the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ). IFAJ judges will go on to select the winners of the IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Agriculture Journalism Award.

This award recognizes the leadership potential of 10 young members from the 29 countries belonging to the IFAJ, and supports the young persons’ participation at the 2011 IFAJ congress. The award is designed to offset travel and registration costs.

At the 2011 congress, winners of the young leaders’ award will participate in a Boot Camp workshop. This will provide participants with expert training and feedback through on-site writing or broadcasting assignments and further develop their leadership skills through formal in-class training. They will be teamed with mentors during the congress to help with learning.

Participants will also write or record spot news three times during the congress. The stories will be made available to the general media and posted on the IFAJ website,

The 2011 IFAJ Boot Camp and congress are September 10-18, 2011, in the Guelph, Ontario, Canada region. Details, including the agenda, are available at

The only way apply for 2011 IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Agriculture Journalism Award is through the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation.

A team of CFWF judges, selected by the federation executive, will pick one entry to represent Canada and will submit the successful candidate’s name to IFAJ for further judging. The remaining nine IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Agriculture Journalism Award winners will be selected from entries from other IFAJ member countries.

Rules and procedures for nomination and selection

1. Applicants must be CFWF members.
2. Applicants must write a brief (500 word maximum) essay that addresses:
  • why they believe they have leadership potential in IFAJ. 
  • how attending Boot Camp and 2011 IFAJ congress will benefit them in their professional life.
Application essays, as well as the applicant’s name, mailing address, email address, telephone number and regional farm writer organization, must be sent to Allison Finnamore, Canada’s IFAJ executive member, at by 5 p.m. eastern time, Monday, February 28, 2011.
3. The IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism Award is valued at 1,000 Euro per winner.
4. The candidate must be able to attend Boot Camp and the IFAJ congress, September 10-18, 2011 in Ontario, Canada.
5. The Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation will select one entry from the Canadian applications for further judging by the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists. CFWF will forward supporting information about the Canadian nominee, who will be required to provide CFWF with supporting information in a timely fashion.
6. Candidates must be involved in agricultural journalism or communications.
7. Candidates must be no more than 35 years old as of December 31, 2010.
8. Final judging will be conducted by a three-person panel chaired by the IFAJ general secretary.
9. Judges’ decisions are final.

Questions? Call Allison at 506-860-7761 or email
CFWF members, please share this with your regional associations.

Brewing passion

It’s hard to remember sometimes where our passion comes from. Do I truly love this here and now or do I love this because I always have?

I was feeling a bit of that when I set off for Belgium in April for the International Federation of Agriculture Journalists annual congress.

See, the idea of forming an Atlantic chapter of the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation was something that some of us in this part of Canada had been talking about for several years. Four of us had been talking prior to IFAJ and decided to get the ball rolling with an event at the end of April. But as for planning the details, we decided to wait until I returned from IFAJ in Belgium.

In the weeks leading to up to IFAJ in Belgium, I had worked on several additional contracts. In fact, after several consecutive 18 hour days, I calculated that I had written 10,000 words in seven days. By the time I reached Belgium, I was exhausted and feeling quite burnt out.

When I thought about continuing the push to form the Atlantic Canada Farm Writers Association, I was overwhelmed. So much work to, was it worth it? Is it a worthwhile project to put my time into? Why is it worthwhile? And whose big idea was this, anyways?!

But attending IFAJ just prior to the first meeting of the Atlantic Canada Farm Writers couldn’t have been any more perfect. My passion was reignited.

I don’t know exactly when it happened.

Maybe it was at the beginning or end of each day, when Janet and I caught up with what was going on in our respective lives. Or maybe it was hearing Billy’s Facebook updates about his crazy travels to reach the congress, or when Rodney and I shared the joys of working from a home office, or when Markus blocked the bathroom door for me at the farm, or when many of us stared with disbelief at the Belgium blue cattle, or when Adrian told me about his recent trip to Africa, or one of the many times Joe cracked a joke, or when Marc let me try on his wooden shoes, or when Kelly, Lilian, Joanne and I piled into the clown car. Or, or, or, or….

All of the reasons, none of the reasons, each one individually, none of them in particular, all of them put together and so many more brought the passion back for me. It was never far away anyways, but you know, sometimes we just need reminding.

In Belgium, I was reminded of exactly why it was important to have a local farm writers’ group: Farmers and agriculture — around the world, throughout our country or in our own back yard — have important stories to tell and we need to help them. It isn’t any more complicated than that and it certainly isn’t any simpler. And as writers who help tell these stories, we need to gather together so share our experiences about what works and what doesn’t work when we tell these stories. We need to learn about the new practices farmers are adopting and how they’re working on the farm. We need to stay informed and up-to-date with the latest communication methods. We need to polish our photography skills and sharpen our reporting proficiency. We need to network with each other.

So zeal renewed, I came home and caught up with Wayne, Andy and Heather to plan our June 4 Atlantic Canada Farm Writers’ Association meeting.

I have always been confident that we had the potential in Atlantic Canada to have a good size group, but how many would I actually see on June 4? Nine had contacted us and expressed an interest, so with that number in mind, I set off for Charlottetown. By the time I started my presentation talking about what CFWF and IFAJ have to offer to those of us in Atlantic Canada, there were 12 of us. Twelve!

I. Knew. We. Could. Do. It.

And do you know what the best part of whole experience was? I didn’t have to “sell” them on the advantages of regional, national and international farm writers’ groups. They already knew. They could feel the energy in the room and see the potential of what broader groups can offer. We’re already brewing our very own passion, right here in Atlantic Canada.

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.

IFAJ 2009 Texas

The Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation annual meeting in Edmonton is just wrapping up and if attendees heard about anything these last few days, it was IFAJ – the International Federation of Agriculture Journalists.

It wasn’t the only topic of discussion, but 18 CFWF members attended the IFAJ congress in Fort Worth, Texas last month. Many of us were at the CFWF meeting in Edmonton. As well IFAJ President Mike Wilson attended CFWF. So it was top of mind!

I attended as the recipient of the CFWF/Monsanto bursary. The $2,500 prize is awarded each year to a CFWF member who applies to CFWF — independent judges review the application and use a point system to mark categories of the application.

more later,

Atlantic journalist wins international bursary

A past-president of the CFWF will represent Canadian farm writers at the 2009 International Federation of Agriculture Journalists congress in Texas this summer. Self-employed communications consultant and writer Allison Finnamore is the winner of the CFWF International Bursary. The bursary, sponsored by Monsanto, reimburses up to $2,500 of the winner’s costs to attend the congress.

A graduate of New Brunswick Community College, Finnamore began her career as a reporter in Grand Falls. That was followed by reporting for The New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal and The Fredericton Daily Gleaner.

Her freelance career has seen her work appear in many agriculture and specialty publications across Canada including: Farm Focus of Atlantic Canada, Country Guide, Nova Scotia Business Journal, Top Crop Manager, The Milk Producer, Canadian Poultry Magazine, Fruit and Vegetable Magazine, Country Life in BC, Farmers’ Independent Weekly, Manitoba Co-Operative, Canadian Cattlemen, Canola Guide, Farming A Journal of Northeast Agriculture, Atlantic Construction Journal and The Carleton Victoria Advertiser.

Today, she is the Editor of the weekly Farm Credit Canada AgriSuccess Express and Associate Editor of the bi-monthly AgriSuccess Journal. She also does contract communications work with business and government.

In addition, she has been a tireless contributor to the CFWF in leadership and volunteer positions. She spent five years as a board member representing the Eastern Canadian Farm Writers’ Association (ECFWA) and a year as CFWF President in 2004-05. She’s worked to organize national CFWF conferences, find judges for annual award competitions, and sponsors for events. She says she’s committed to welcoming international visitors to Canada when the Congress is held in Guelph in 2011.

“My volunteer work with CFWF and my freelance business offer me a broad understanding of agriculture throughout the country. The conference being held in the United States, a country with which Canadian agriculture has experienced many challenges and shares many commonalities (BSE, COOL, trade, farm labour, organics), heightens my interest. I relish the chance to be in the heart of American agriculture writers, editors and farmers. I am excited about the trip and look forward to sharing the Canadian experience with fellow conference attendees. I fully expect to stir interest and enthusiasm for attending IFAJ in Canada in 2011,” says Finnamore.

Finnamore says she’ll share her learnings with all who are interested through her already established blog and social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

“I believe there are many more potential CFWF members in Atlantic Canada who may be drawn into the organization when they hear about my experience.”