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September 2021

A MESSAGE FROM OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
I can’t believe it’s already October! I hope our regular updates leading up to the federal election last month were useful to you and helpful in informing your voting decisions. The continuity of federal representation with the re-election of the Liberal government allows our industry to continue working with the same partners we already have longstanding relationships with on your behalf. And of course, we will continue to keep you updated on all relevant developments. 
 
Now that fall is in full swing we can begin to look forward to some exciting things here at CHC. Firstly, we officially launched our International Year of Fruit and Vegetable website recently! And national promotions are now in full swing. You can learn all about it on the webpage.
As we gear up for World Fruit and Vegetable Day on October 15, CHC will be spending the week leading up to it celebrating the diversity of fresh produce grown in different parts of the world on social media - so be sure to follow us on Twitter @CHC_CCH

The campaign is part of the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables celebrations that CHC has been supporting throughout the year. It aims to highlight the importance of fruits and vegetables, the people who produce them, and educate Canadians about where they come from. 

We are also busy planning our Centennial celebrations along with our annual AGM which will take place next spring. Make sure to save the dates of March 7-10 and keep checking our website for further updates and information on the event. 


Finally, during my vacation in August I was able to visit some growers and packers in New Brunswick and the Holland Marsh region of Ontario. It was such a wonderful opportunity to see firsthand how well members of our industry have persisted throughout all the challenges in the last two seasons, in order to provide delicious and nutritious food. Thank you to Rachel Durepos along with Marc and Ralph Hanscome at Atlantic Potato Distributors, Andrew Lovell, Anna Belliveau and Christian Michaud in NB, and Jody Mott, Quinton Woods and the numerous farmers in the Marsh for taking the time to show me around! Below are some photos from my trip. 


Rebecca Lee
Executive Director
Canadian Horticultural Council 

 
IMPORTANT INDUSTRY UPDATES
CHC is hiring a Crop Protection Officer!
 
The position will start mid-November for a short-term contract. Requirements include:
  • A University degree in Science/Agriculture/Agronomy/Toxicology or other relevant discipline, preference to holders of a Master of Science degree
  • Demonstrated experience in agriculture, crop protection, and integrated pest management
  • Knowledge of the federal regulation of crop protection products in Canada
  • Demonstrated ability to plan and execute strategies to meet objectives 
  • Experience in research, data analysis, scientific reporting and knowledge translation
The position will be open until filled. Please contact admin@hortcouncil.ca for further information.
 
Clean Farms: Agricultural Plastic Characterization and Management on Canadian Farms Report now Available
 
This report identifies the types and amounts of agricultural plastic that is used across Canada. It estimates that Canadian farmers use approximately 62,000 tonnes of ag plastic products and packaging per year. The combined estimates of ag plastics generated by the fruit and vegetable sector is 6,099 tonnes/year for field (non-greenhouse) vegetables and 5,876 tonnes/year for greenhouse vegetables. This totals to 19% second to the 59% of the plastics that come from field crops. 
 
Read the report here

 
UN Food Systems Summit 2021 
 
On September 23, the first-ever UN Food Systems Summit had nearly 300 commitments from a diverse group of over 51,000 people form 193 different countries including CHC’s Executive Director Rebecca Lee. The event focused on worldwide issues such as global hunger, climate change and biodiversity loss for true food systems transformation. You can watch a recap of the Summit here.
 

Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) AgriHR Toolkit 

Through the Canadian Horticultural Council’s partnership with the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council, our members have free access to the AgriHR Toolkit. This resource is designed to address the unique needs of the agriculture industry. Based on years of research and field testing conducted in Canada and internationally, this toolkit offers everything you need to improve your people management skills and develop key resources to help you find, retain, and support your employees. To access it, simply set up an account using the Coupon Code: HORTtoolkit.

COVID-19 Information Centre

We are continuing to work with commodity and regional representatives, as well as with other agriculture industry organizations, to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on our sector. Visit CHC's COVID-19 Information Centre webpage for the latest information, updates and links for resources for producers and industry representatives.

GET TO KNOW YOUR INDUSTRY

This month's focus: Mary Ruth McDonald, Research Program Director at University of Guelph 

 
Mary Ruth is a participant in the Canadian AgriScience Cluster for Horticulture 3. With an investment of nearly $21 million ($13 million by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s AgriInnovation Program and $8 million by industry), Cluster 3 brings expertise from academia, industry and government together on 16 research activities across five commodity groups: apple, berry, greenhouse, potato and vegetable. Click here for more information on Cluster 3.

Tell us about your job - what do you do day to day and what are your long-term goals?

I am a professor in the Department of Plant Agriculture at the University of Guelph. Every day is different - which is one of the things that I really like about the job. There is teaching of undergraduate and grad students, research (including the asparagus research), outreach and service. The outreach includes presentations of the research results to growers. A day includes lots of time on the computer, especially during covid. There is preparing and delivering lectures, meeting with grad students and other research staff, writing reports, papers and grant proposals and lots of editing the work of others. One of the best parts of my job is going to the field to see the plants growing and how the treatments are working out. Another part that I really enjoy is seeing the statistical analysis of the results, to see if there are any real differences. Sometimes the results don’t turn out as expected and we have to go back and rethink. That can be frustrating but also exciting. 

The long term goal is to support sustainable agriculture, with an emphasis on plant resistance and other pest management strategies. “Sustainable’ means economically sound, in addition to being environmentally friendly.  


Why did you choose to focus on this area of research?

The area of research for this project is breeding for disease resistance in asparagus against Stemphylium leaf blight. My part is the plant pathology side, to develop methods that the plant breeder, Dr. Dave Wolyn, can use to accurately determine the levels of resistance in the new lines he develops, and use the information to better select resistant genetic material for the breeding program. Resistance to plant diseases is usually the most economical and environmentally friendly approach to disease control. Asparagus spears are not sprayed with fungicides, as they are harvested daily and eaten shortly after harvest.
High levels of research will really benefit the industry and consumers.

What do you most respect/admire about Canadian growers?

There are many things I admire about Canadian growers. They deal with so many different demands every day and always produce high quality, healthy food. My interest is integrated pest management, which involves making decisions based on lots of different kinds of information, but what I deal with is only a fraction of what growers have to consider in their everyday decisions. The skills and knowledge that goes into the successful operation of the ‘average’ farm is truly amazing.  

What will be our industry’s biggest research and innovation challenges in the short/long term and how can we address them?

The main challenges for agriculture today are invasive species, pesticide resistance and labour shortages, not necessarily in that order. Then there is the increasing administrative burden of record keeping, permits and other paper work.
   
Fortunately, there are many researchers tackling these problems. Automation and robotics may solve some of these issues in the future, to take over some jobs that require hand labour today, such as weeding and harvesting. For instance, a robotic weeder can pull out herbicide resistant weeds along with all the other weeds. Other new technologies, such as CRISPR, nanotechnologies and gene silencing may solve many of the plant breeding and crop protection challenges. However it will take time before Canadian growers have easy access to robotics and benefit from the other technologies.  


What are you watching on Netflix/last book you read?

For reading and viewing, I gravitate to mystery stories. I like the puzzles to solve and also when ‘good triumphs over evil’, although some that have more ambiguous endings can be very interesting also. 

What is your favourite dish with Canadian fruit and veg? Recipe link if available!

In the kitchen, I tend toward minimal processing: potatoes boiled with the skin on, grilled or steamed vegetables, and fresh fruit in season. Everything tastes so good, it doesn’t need enhancement. 

 
UPCOMING EVENTS AND DEADLINES
Learn more about the North American Plant Protection Organization (NAPPO)
 
Plan to attend a 90-minute webinar on October 7, 2-3:30 PM EST to learn more about NAPPO, what it does and where you can play a role. The webinar will be presented by the NAPPO advisory committee members from Canada, USA, Mexico and the NAPPO Secretariat. There will also be chance to ask questions. 
 
Register here
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Cheap sensors for smarter farmers" help farmers make better decisions

The shift to very large farms is accelerating

US Rep. Bobby Rush introduces legislation for urban agriculture
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