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.

Fighting for ag

A high school in Sussex, New Brunswick is fighting to keep its agricultural class.

According to a story at CBC news, a teacher at the school was told the Agriculture 12-0 class would be cancelled. A campaign to keep the class extended its life by another year, but the long-term future of the program hasn’t been decided yet by the Department of Education. The department did, according to the story, suggest turning the Agriculture 12-0 class into an environmental science class, with a two-week unit on agriculture. In an effort to maintain the class, students and teachers have planted a garden on the school property and they’re hoping that move will help sway the province into keeping the Agriculture 12-0 class as is.

 

At almost the same time the students in Sussex were unveiling their new garden, Farm Credit Canada released its twice-a-year Farmland Values Report. The report started in 1990, and twice a year, 245 benchmark farm properties are appraised for their value. The selected properties represent the most prevalent  classes of agricultural soil in each part of the country, says FCC, and changes in value are weighted based on cultivated farmland per acre.

FCC found that New Brunswick farmland values were unchanged during the first half of 2012, following a 1.3 per cent increase in the second half of 2011, and no change in the first half of that year. Farmland values have increased or remained static in New Brunswick since reaching a peak increase of 6.3 per cent in the last half of 2008.

Sussex has long been known as one of New Brunswick’s strongest agricultural areas and as the milk producing hub of the province. But according to FCC’s report, “the area continues to see an ongoing trend of large acreages and former farmland purchased for rural residential use and hobby farming. Agriculture transactions were limited by this type of activity, along with the expansion of potash mining in the area. Moreover, dairy farm expansions in this area were limited as a result of the lack of available production quota.”

Nationally, we’re seeing a shift away from agriculture too. My colleague Owen Roberts, The Urban Cowboy, writes about a major change at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto.

So if some of the statistics show a decline in traditional farming in Sussex, is it reasonable to teach students about agriculture? Or is it time to move agriculture to the history class instead?

No.

Agriculture needs the support of community, and that means including it as a high school course in agriculturally rich areas and keeping its name in traditional agricultural-related events.

The agriculture landscape of Canada is changing but the change should be considered an opportunity.  If there are an increasing number of hobby farms in the Sussex area, purchased by the parents and grandparents of the students who attend Sussex High School, then an agriculture course is key to helping the younger generation learn a bit about farming. By nurturing the family’s existing desire for rural life as they start their new home in the country, agriculture in the high school could turn the love for gardening or a backyard chicken flock into a career choice for the students.

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.

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.

 

Promoting what’s ours

I’m not sure if it’s lack of pride, enthusiasm or money, but something is lacking in New Brunswick with agriculture promotion.

I’m spending a few weeks travelling in Maritime Canada and currently, I’m in Prince Edward Island.

Fruit and vegetable stands are around every turn and maps at every tourist bureau point to the flavour routes… highlighting agri-tourism or agriculture experiences, farm markets and restaurants. Local food is highlighted in every restaurant.

Many of the promotional steps are simple and cost effective. A map with farm markets, pick-your-own farms and other agriculture activities has advertisements — it’s a promo tool that likely paid for itself. With thousands of tourists through visitor information centres each summer in PEI, the spin-off of promoting themselves is invaluable.

Personally, with this handy map highlighting local foods, I’m using it to plan my meals, whether I’m doing the cooking or eating out.

So why isn’t this happening in New Brunswick? I know farmers are proud of the product they produce, but are their energies too tapped out to do the promotion? What role does the federal an provincial government play?