After a long and busy day, Lisa Teeple and her team had the chance to step back and examine the fruits of their labour.
“I'm happy," Teeple said when asked about how this year's "Ag Day” turned out.
“We were happy with the number that we had turn out. We always wish for more but we were happy that we had as many as we did.”
While “Ag Day” has been running in the district for the past few years, this was the first year that Teeple and the Rainy River Federation of Agriculture had used the Chapple Rec Centre in Barwick to house the event, and with the bigger venue came bigger pressure.
The daylong event played host to a number of presentations that covered a wide variety of topics, from livestock care and health, to the effects of soil compaction on crop growth. Teeple said that two of the more popular talks this year were of a slightly different nature.
“People really enjoyed the hops presentations from the producer standpoint and from the manufacturer's standpoint,” Teeple said.
“They really liked to see it. They were interested because it's a new crop for this region . . . and it was something that people had never considered, so it's now maybe opened a different avenue for those who have smaller acreages.”
Sandra Gowan, of Prairie GEM Hops of Manitoba, spoke to the “Ag Day” crowd on Saturday morning about the possibility of growing regional hops, a plant that can grow up to a foot a day, can reach eight or more metres in height and whose flowers are used most famously in brewing beer. Gowan grows several varieties of hops on her land, and spent time showing the crowd images of her operations, as well as the different types of work involved.
After lunch that day, a team from Lake of the Woods Brewery in Kenora presented the business and brewing side of the hops process, explaining how the hops are used to make beer and what kind of financial arrangements local hops growers could potentially see from breweries in the future.
“[Prairie GEM Hops] only produces on half an acre,” Teeple said.
“So it's an interest to those who are closer to town or living in the country with 10 acres, they can produce a crop and sell it. And having the Lake of the Woods Brewery come and tell us how they use their hops and what they're looking for, and even to give an estimate on what it could be for cost was really interesting to hear.”
Other talks that day included a presentation on agriculture plastics from the Northern Ontario Farm Innovation Alliance (NOFIA), smart phone use and security from Sight and Sound, Agricorp's 2019 insurance programs, and beef nutrition from Masterfeeds.
“We really enjoyed the topics,” Teeple said.
“They were a little diverse, they weren't all on the same things. We're trying to encourage not just beef farmers or crop farmers; we also want the home farmer, the home gardener, the beekeepers, and the small barnyard animal keepers,” she added.
“We're trying to make it so that it's good for everybody,” noted Teeple.
Teeple also said that she received positive feedback about the exhibitors and trade booths that were at “Ag Day” this year. The move to a large venue meant there was more space for displays than there had been in previous years, with businesses like Precision Land Clearing, Emo Feeds, Degagne Equipment and North Country Track & Wheel among those with a presence on the trade show floor.
“It was a success, so hopefully it will encourage more exhibitors for next year in the trade booths,” she said.
A $5 soup, sandwich and chilli lunch was also available to those attending the “Ag Day,” with coffee and dainties provided between some of the presentations thanks to a number of coffee break sponsors
Overall, Teeple said that the turnout was encouraging and that the future of the event would only get brighter, thanks in part to the suggestions left by those in attendance.
“It was really nice to see and we're going to build on it,” Teeple said.
“We're going to improve. We're going to take everyone's suggestions and try to make it even bigger, better.”
Teeple also took the time to thank everyone who worked to help make the “Ag Day” possible.
“It was a lot of work and the board stepped up and they put their heart and soul into it,” she said.
“They wanted to see it succeed and I'm sure they're really happy to see how well the day went," noted Teeple. "I'm really happy and proud of them.”