Technical advances in forage production

This session will explore a range of topics of interest to field crop growers looking to include intensive forage production in their crop rotation and livestock producers wanting to improve their farm feed self-sufficiency and profits.  The central question to be answered is “can organic forage produce 10 tonnes per hectare dry matter, and if so, HOW?”  We will cover:

  • Seed bed preparation
  • Ideal forage mixtures
  • Seeding rates
  • Seeders and seeding techniques
  • Crop nutrition and liming
  • Harvesting sugar
  • Companion cropping and cover crops

Demonstration plants will be on hand to exemplify the strategies discussed.

Moving towards a welfare-friendly dairy production

A two-hour session on the welfare of dairy cows will be provided by two animal behaviour and welfare researchers from the Organic Dairy Research Centre at the University of Guelph, Campus d’Alfred. The session will begin with an interactive overview of animal welfare. The objectives will be to define animal welfare, discuss the evolution of societal concern over animal welfare, explain how to measure welfare at the farm level, and present some examples of welfare standards from Canada, the US and Europe. This presentation will be followed by a review of various welfare issues in dairy production and how these issues are being addressed by the Canadian standards for conventional and organic production. The session will end with a brief presentation of current research projects at Alfred.

Solar Energy for Farms: Insights on Programs, New Technologies & Cost-Effectiveness

Hear about the latest developments in solar energy, including:

  • an update on the OPA Feed-in-Tariff and microFIT programs, state of the solar PV market and changes within the industry that can affect consumers.
  • new technologies on or about to enter the market with a perspective on costs and benefits.
  • regional R&D including a Building-Integrated Photovoltaic-Thermal system, a research house with heat storage built-in, and another with integrated, heated greenhouse, rainwater storage and root cellar.

The “O” word: Marketing Organics for Health

In light of the latest wave of “anti-organic” press that has filled the media, market gardeners are in a unique position to speak as producers directly to the consumer.  This session will provide market growers with solid information to take with them to their customers about the real and proven health benefits of organic food.

Jodi will examine some of the studies being used to discredit organic foods and how their findings are being misused by addressing common scientific “blunders” like “third party authority”.  She will provide a survey of the overwhelming body of evidence pointing to the health benefits of organic foods as well as the many environmental benefits of organic agriculture that are often unacknowledged by negative press.

Considerations for Heritage Grain Production

Farmers have been cultivating heritage grains for centuries and these crops are the backbone of the varieties used today in modern agriculture. How do we grow and sustain these varieties? Come learn from diversified field crop producer, George Wright of Castor River Farm. George will share some of his best practices in terms of how he is responding to, and dealing with, both the agronomic and economic challenges of growing diversified heritage grains in ecological farming conditions.

Agroforestry: genetic selections for organics

How can a field crop farmer convert land to agroforestry?  What are the advantages and challenges of this approach?  What specific genetic characteristics should a farmer look for in trees to be used in the harsh Canadian climate, and especially on a low-input organic farm?  These questions will be answered by Ken Taylor in this session on establishing agroforestry on an organic farm.

A Bio-Intensive Market Garden

Inspired by the French intensive tradition of maraÎchageJean-Martin Fortier shares in details the techniques, tools and appropriate technology that makes his market garden productive and profitable.

It is popularly supposed that the small-scale market garden can no longer be economically viable since it cannot compete with the economies of scale of the larger growers. But is that so? In this session Jean-Martin Fortier provides an overview of all aspects of vegetable production at les Jardins de la Grelinette demonstrating how adopting intensive methods of production can lead to the optimization of a cropping system.

Special Screening: Island Green

Directed by Millefiore Clarkes
National Film Board

Prince Edward Island has long been famous for its spuds and red mud. But in the last 50 years since industrialized farming took root, this small, predominantly agricultural island has been building a new reputation—for having the highest cancer and respiratory illness rates in all of Canada. Is there a link?

Modern monocropping practices are indeed the lifeblood for the majority of PEI’s small, hardworking farming community. But the environmental impacts of the increased use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides are prompting a growing number of farmers on the island to turn to organic farming as a viable livelihood. This is their story.

Inspired by their success, Island Green dares to offer the refreshing possibility of change, by asking the very question that more and more Prince Edward Islanders are contemplating: What if PEI went entirely organic?

Organic Herd Health Management

When an organic animal gets sick, how do we respond? Dr. Susan Beal, DVM, has spent over 25 years answering this question: in her own practice, in workshops for farmers, and in conversations and presentations with veterinarians across North America.  During her presentation, she’ll share her approaches to common herd health issues as well as her favourite “tools in the box” to treat them. The second part of the presentation will be discussion-based – attendees should come prepared to ask lots of questions and share their own experiences.

EFAO: Market Grower Panel Discussion on Profitability

The Market Grower Panel will bring together three growers from eastern Ontario who will bring their unique perspectives on what makes a market garden efficient, profitable, and successful.  Each will speak briefly on their use of record keeping as a way to understand their costs of production and assess their profitability, and their process of deciding on investments in scale-appropriate technologies for their operations.  Group discussion with the audience will capture even more strategies and techniques for achieving profitability, and will give opportunity for experienced and new growers to interact and learn from each other.

Pollination in organic agriculture: Applying ecological principles

Peter Kevan is Emeritus Professor at the University of Guelph and Scientific Director of the Canadian Pollination Initiative (NSERC-CANPOLIN). His primary interests are in pollination, pollinators, and the application of ecological principles to agricultural systems. He has worked with soft and tender fruit growers, orchard fruit production, oilseed crops (canola and sunflower), field vine crops (pumpkins, squash and pickling cucumbers), and ecological based farming systems. His interests include integrated pest management and biological control, especially as they interact through beekeeping and pollination.