The Rural Agri-Innovation Network (RAIN) today announced the upcoming RAIN Symposium, focused on agriculture and food workshops, to be held in Bruce Mines this February 7 and 8.
RAIN identified cold-hardy fruit production as a topic of interest to Algoma growers.
The annual RAIN Symposium, hosted in the winter to accommodate the busy schedule of farmers, will provide an opportunity to bring the agriculture community together.
“We’ve always strived for the RAIN Symposium to bring the experts to the growers. Dr. Bors is internationally known for his work with cold-tolerant fruit crops, and will provide a wealth of practical experience. We hope this knowledge-sharing will encourage growers in our area try new fruit crops with reduced risk,” said Errol Caldwell, Co-Chair, RAIN.
On the evening of Friday, February 7, Bryan Gilvesy of Y U Ranch in Tillsonburg, Ontario will lead “Marketing and Innovation for Local Food Producers” where he will discuss how Y U Ranch’s innovative techniques have allowed them to overcome barriers for selling beef in the local market.
Friday evening’s dinner and discussion will provide innovative solutions for selling through the local food system.
Y U Ranch is an ecologically-conscious beef operation whose 100 percent grass-fed beef is sold at the farm gate and more than a dozen restaurants throughout southern Ontario.
"Y U Ranch has shortened value chains through brand management and innovation, with the long-term objective of returning maximum dollar value to the farm. Hopefully this talk will inspire producers to move up the value chain and look at their farms as businesses with compelling value propositions, not just beef production systems," explained Bryan.
On Saturday, February 8, Dr. Bob Bors from the University of Saskatchewan will lead a full-day workshop on “Northern Hardy Fruit Production,” sharing his experience at the university’s Fruit Program, known to be the northern-most fruit breeding program in Canada.
Dr. Bors will share basic concepts relevant to beginners, as well as advanced techniques for experienced growers.
Topics will include easy grafting with parafilm, predicting and accessing winter damage, avoiding late frosts, and techniques for getting fruit trees to grow faster.
Dr. Bors will share his research experience growing and breeding cold-tolerant fruit, as well as techniques for selecting which fruits to grow in the north.
“Many factors need to be taken into consideration when growing fruit in cold climates. Although species selection is important, winter survival isn’t the only characteristic to be considered. One should consider: Which species are easy to grow and harvest? Which species taste good? Which ones can be processed? Or which ones might have a market?” explained Dr. Bors, Assistant Professor, Plant Science, University of Saskatchewan.
In addition, Saturday’s workshop will include discussions from local producers and horticulturalists.
Greg and Mira Melien of Boreal Berry Farm & Winery will discuss their farm business, growing and processing haskap berries into juices, syrups, sauces and wine.
Ron Lewis of Lewis’s Hardy Fruit Trees & Giant Pumpkins will share his experience growing and selling fruit trees appropriate for Climate Zone 3.
Finally, Dale Jackson from St. Joseph Island will share his experience with orchard maintenance.
Both workshops will be held at Bruce Station Hall (109 Station Road) in Bruce Mines.
The workshops are open to the public.
Tickets may be purchased for one or both workshops.
Friday’s event is $15, and includes dinner; Saturday’s event is $25, and includes a light breakfast and lunch; and for $35 participants can register for both days.
For more information on RAIN, please visit: www.rainalgoma.ca.
Speaker funding for “Marketing and Innovation for Local Food Producers” was provided by the Agricultural Management Institute (AMI).