News & Events

SUMMER 2010

NEOSCIA Research Forum at Laurentian University

Kelly Bird–NEOSCIA intern

On March 25, 2010, NEOSCIA with Monitoring (Mining), Innovation, Rehabilitation and Applied Research Corporation(MIRARCO) hosted the North Eastern Ontario Research Forum at Laurentian University, in Sudbury. Over thirty members of the agricultural, research and academia community in the north attended the event. The forum was organized in hopes to further develop relationships with members from each community, to encourage collaboration and cooperation, as well as, share information, projects and resources.

The Universities in attendance were Nipissing, Laurentian, Université du Québec, and Guelph Research Station. In addition, faculty from Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Center, Northern Ontario Research, Development, Ideas, Knowledge(NORDIK), OSCIA, FedNor, OMAFRA and MIRARCO. And of course, producers from across north eastern Ontario were valued members of the crowd at the Forum.

Over the course of the morning, and into the early afternoon, each university and organization individually presented research, projects and background information regarding their institutes. The first presenter was, Université du Québec, who discussed their research on growing forage in conjunction with nutrient management for cattle. The next to present was Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Center, part of Algoma University, which was represented by Ross MacLeod. He talked about his research on biofibre and biofuels in the Algoma area and the assistance innovation center provides local businesses to further develop relationships with associates of the science research field.

Following the innovation center’s presentation, NORDIK, another organization from the Algoma area, was next to present. NORDIK was represented by David Thompson, who explained that NORDIK assists farmers in adding innovation to their products through the marketing concept of eating local. NORDIK is an organization that is grass roots based, connects the community with farmers, and develops local initiatives to encourage the development of agricultural commodities.

Laurentian University and MIRARCO, were the fourth to present at the Forum. Dr. Graeme Spiers explained how climate change is affecting agriculture today and the importance of practicing sustainable agriculture to assist with weather and climate risks. He also explained MIRARCO’s research project on wasteland soil: the organization has been growing crops on mining tailings.

Nipissing University was next to present. Nipissing went into great detail introducing and going into the backgrounds of all of their staff in the Geography Department. They also talked about the weather station and satellite imaging projects which are currently taking place in conjunction with NEOSCIA.

New Liskeard Research Station Agricultural(NLARS) was the last presenter for the day. Both John Rowsell (Agronomy) andBecky Hughes (Horticulture) were representing the station. Rowsell discussed NLARS’s research with cattle and crop management (cereal and forage). He also discussed the relationships that NLARS has with other research groups and facilities. Hughes discussed the stations past work with cool season vegetables and their present research project regarding day neutral strawberries.

The forum was wrapped up by setting up “the next steps” in continuing networking, and building upon the connections made that day between researchers to researchers and farmers to researchers. The entire group complied a list of ‘the next steps’, which fall into five categories: network creation, network resources, project development, funding opportunities, and representation on Provincial funding boards. A work team was put in place to begin the process of putting the steps into action. The work team at this point in time consists of the following people: Mack Emiry, Murray Cochrane, Nick Betts, Errol Caldwell, Jonathon Waddell, MIRARCO, John Kovacs, and John Rowsell. To view the minutes of the forum please visit www.neoscia.wordpress.com.

SUMMER 2010

Technology, NEOSCIA, Networking, Agriculture?

Kelly Bird–NEOSCIA intern

President Janet Parsons wrote an article in the last issue of Breaking Ground entitled “2009 a banner year for NEOSCIA”, and to be honest, it is a challenge to argue that statement.

The technological mountain that NEOSCIA has climbed in the past several months is almost frightening. Temiskaming Crops Coalition (TSCIA is under their umbrella) has introduced a blog (www.temiskamingcc.blogspot.com), to further develop communication, and networking among its members, crop specialists and producers. In addition, TCC’s crop camera has finally been set-up with the Temiskaming weather station, and the website for the camera is up and running. Please do not hesitate about spying on the Jibb’s field: http://64.25.187.10:81/Jpeg/CamImg.jpg. The field, the camera is located in, is currently growing Kain Wheat, planted on April 23rd.

The Nipissing weather station project, which has been discussed in great detail in previous issues, is still a large focus for the NEOSCIA and the University. Both the weather stations are still in place. Check out your local Temiskaming or Nipissing weather at www.nipissingu.ca/faculty/johnmk/weather_NEOSCIA_NU.htm.

Most recently, NEOSCIA has put together a website inspired blog (www.neoscia.wordpress.com). The website features past Breaking Ground articles, going all the way back to 2006, and of course, they are only Northern Ontario focused article. The website also features information about agricultural biomass, pictures from past events, information about upcoming events, and so forth.

The most shocking social media phenomenon of all is (drum roll please), NEOSCIA has joined twitter. So start tweeting and follow us on twitter (www.twitter.com).

SUMMER 2010

NOAFEM Recieves Support Funding

Northern Ontario Agri Food Education Y Marketing Inc

SUDBURY – Retired Teachers of Ontario (RTO) supports Northern MAPLE’s visit to Thunder Bay, Kenora and Rainy River Districts with funding under RTO’s Project – Service to Others.

NOAFEM received $2,000.00 when RTO District 4 – Sudbury/Manitoulin President Jacques Halle presented the cheque to Pat Marcotte at their annual general meeting on May 13th.

NOAFEM’s project is one of 35 across the province receiving funding for 2010. The funding is available to Ontario’s retired teachers for community service activities.

Northern MAPLE participates in a recent Media Conference at Anderson Farm Museum in Lively.

Historical Farm Site Recognized.

LIVELY – The Anderson Farm Museum in Lively received approval for funding from the City of Greater Sudbury City Council for a major renovation project to winterize the stable at the farm. The project will provide the public with a facility that can be used year-round for community activities, special events and educational programs. The project which will be completed in July, will allow seating for up to 80 people.

Since its formation in 2007, the Anderson Farm Museum Heritage Society has replaced the cedar shingles on the roof of the barn and farm house, replaced windows in the farm house and constructed display units in the loft of the barn to exhibit historical items original to the farm.

Anderson Farm operated as a dairy farm from 1916 – 1945. The City of Greater Sudbury offers facilitated tours of the site including the barn, milk house and farm house. Visitors to the site step back in time to get a feel for life on a dairy farm of the period.

Northern Ontario Agri-Food Education & Marketing Inc. suppor ts the June educational program at the farm. Our educational program is a natural fit when Northern MAPLE can be included. There couldn’t be a better location to teach children and adults alike about milk and the dairy industry that at a real dairy farm! The fact that this was once a working dairy farm and is now a historical site allows the whole story to be told – then and now.

Northern MAPLE provides an interactive addition to the program and encourages teachers to register their class for a visit. On average 800 students participate in the June program at the farm. Children from Sudbury schools on a visit to Anderson Farm Museum and enjoy a carton of milk from Copper Cliff Dairy.

What’s Happening?

1. 38 Agricultural Fairs across northern Ontario in June through September

2. 5 judging sites for Giant Pumpkin growers the second week of September

3. 23 Farmers’ Markets (at least) across the north opening soon near you

Check our website for a complete list: www.norontagrifood.org

SPRING 2010

Janet Parsons, President of NEOSCIA, Presentation

on Chile at AGM of NOAFEM in Sudbury

Sharon Lane– Regional Correspondent

Janet Parsons and her husband, John, spent November of 2009 in South America visiting Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. They flew into Santiago, the largest city

in Chile. Chile is approximately 4300 kms long but only 150 wide. It borders on Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. Its fertile land is a central plain between the coastal mountains and the Andes. It is predominately an agricultural country. Travelling about the country on buses is easy.

Pedro de Valdivia conquered Chile for Spain in 1541 and, thus, Spanish is the language used. English is limited. Chilean villages and cities are modelled after the Spanish idea of town squares where the main buildings are around a square. The square is more or less “green space”

where the people congregate. In some of the town squares, people have put buggies or carts made from bicycle parts for the children to ride on. The siesta is still observed, but the shops are open late into the evening.

The Canada dollar is worth about 500 Chilean pesos. The Parsons found it very difficult to get used to the large amount of money that things cost in pesos.

Because the Chileans have four growing seasons, the attitude that they can do it tomorrow is prevalent and is a drawback to progress.

Some of the tempting food and drinks that the Parsons tried were completo italiano (hot dog with the “works”) fish soup, beef with potatoes, fresh vegetables and fruits, a cheap wine with vanilla ice cream, pisco sours (pisco, lemon or lime juice,

egg whites, syrup and bitters) and Chilean wine.

Janet noticed that city subways often had murals promoting agriculture. Chileans are very proud of their agriculture. They have fairs and expositions just as we do

with snack foods, kid’s games and often showcase their indigenous people as we do our aboriginals.

Agrotourism is being promoted, especially in the wine industry. A four-hour tour that visits two vinyards cost about $100. Ten to fifteen vintners will cooperate and

arrange to have two or more wineries available for each tour.

Recently, many foreigners are coming in to buy up the land and develop industries. Dole has set up fruit canning plants. Many farmers have converted from grain

crops to grapes, blueberries and peaches for export, and farmers now have to import grain. Janet noted that Chile’s dairy industry is not as developed as Uruguay’s

as farmers seem to be using milking machines but the milk goes into a milk can instead of a central stainless steel tank.

There is a great deal of inequality in wages especially after the military dictatorship of Pinochet. A manager might earn a hundred times more wages than a secretary might.

The Parsons also visited the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Valparaiso and Mendosa, Argentina, the wine area that produces 80% of Argentina’s wine.

Janet had many interesting pictures during her presentation of her trip to South America. Janet told us that according to The Lonely Planet, Chile and Uruguay

were the safest South American countries to visit. Janet showed many interesting pictures of her South American holiday and some of the products that Canadians can get from Chile.

FALL 2009

Canola Council and TCC Crop Tour

Chandel Gambles– Crop and Agriculture Project Ressearch Assistant– OMAFRA, New Liskeard 

In an effort to provide time efficiency for the farm community, the Temiskaming Crop Coalition (TCC) chose to join with the Canola Council in providing a double tour of crop test projects in the Earlton area. The event was held on Friday, July 23, and was attended by about 60 canola farmer from the south and a wide range of farmers

from the North. There were lots of industry and government reps mixed in.

As any good farm event should, this tour started with a huge luncheon that took place in one of Dave Schill’s drivesheds. Then it was off to the Canola fields.

Schill North-Land Farms, located just north of Earlton, is the Canola Production Center for the Ontario Canola Growers Association. The purpose of the site is to evaluate and determine the economics mof the different technology systems and varieties within these systems that

are available to the canola producers of Ontario. Plots include three Bayer Invigor varieties treated with the Liberty system, four Dekalb varieties treated with Glyphosate, and three Pioneer varieties, also treated with Glyphosate. Another Pioneer variety was evaluated for

Sclerotinia resistance. All varieties were twice replicated in 1.3 acre plots. Speakers from each company addressed the crowd.

Other speakers also addressed the afternoon gathering. One of these represented “ONTRACE”, an industry-led, not for profit organization that exists to deliver integrated, flexible and affordable traceability systems for the agriculture and agri-food industry. The benefit for the farmer is that formal traceability allows a producer as well as an entire sector of the industry to

avoid misplaced liability for a public issue. It also allows government to more effectively and efficiently deal with emergency management within the industry.

Prior to the evening TCC crop tour, an excellent BBQ was held at Koch Grain Elevator Inc. The bus tour then started

with a stop at Ferguson Farms, where host Kevin Pratt showed off a huge trial of Canola that had been sprayed with Liberty and Assure. Koch Farms was next where Pioneer reps showed a number of varieties of sclerotinia resistant canola. Dave Schill grows more than just Canola,

and he gave a tour of a spring wheat field that had been planted in mid November last year to determine the viability of fall dormant frost seeding, designed for early germination in the spring of /09. The goalis to reduce the spring work load while producing higher quality wheat. We can’t wait to see the results of this one!

Matt Bowman showed off a number of varieties of soybean and Kevin Runnalls compared Jordon and Nice oats. Huge corn trials were viewed at Ferme Loranlee and at IPM host Ferme Rivadale.

Although the bus did not make it to the last two sites, OMAFRA staff spoke about the NEOSCIA Regional test plot into the control of Bedstraw by the use of “Milestone”, and representatives of Nipissing University addressed their partnership with NEOSCIA in the placement of two weather stations, one in mid- Temiskaming and the other near Verner.

The evening ended with – you guessed it – a little more food!

FALL 2009

FedNor Minister Tony Clement and NEOSCIA

President Janet Parsons Announce Funding for

NEOSCIA “Intern” Position

Graham Gambles–Regional Communications Coordinator

NEOSCIA recently received approval to hire a “Youth Intern” with support of $27,500 provided by the Government of Canada under the FedNor program. NEOSCIA received additional support from the Temiskaming Agricultural Development Agency (TADA) to the level of $3000, to complete the package.

The FedNor program is designed to provide meaningful full-time work experiencefor recent post secondary school graduates. The goal is to assist young people in finding gainful employment in the north, and encourage them to become long term members of the northern workforce.

After a province-wide search for the most appropriate candidate, the NEOSCIA search committee chose Kelly Bird as our Intern for a 12 month period, starting in early August of 2009. Kelly graduated from McMaster University in Hamilton this spring. Her career goal is to work in communications, preferably doing PR and promotions.

Since her arrival, she certainly has had the chance to expand on her interests! After a rapid introduction to northern agriculture, Kelly was put to work in the development of the NEOSCIA and adjoining Temiskaming Crop Coalition (TCC) displays for the Earlton IPM. These displays featured a weather station, provided by Nipissing University, that promoted the new partnership between these organizations. Also featured was a limestone display that enhanced the link between Miller Minerals and the TCC. The partnership between TCC and Temiskaming OMAFRA was highlighted with a 2009 research project that evaluated the use of calcium chloride on forage fields as a preventative for “Milk Fever” in dairy cattle, The display was rounded out with a feature on the 3 regional projects that NEOSCIA has undertaken over the past decade. (Alternative forage species, the Canola-Sulphur fertilizer relationship, and Bedstraw control.)

Kelly is now working on a display to be presented at the Royal Winter Fair. She will also be developing the NEOSCIA Trade Show and Agricultural Conference in Earlton come April. She will be the primary co-ordinator for the next 3 issues of Breaking Ground. She is working with TCC in the development of a “Blog” and is assisting in a TCC “remote sensing” research project. (She is available to assist ALL District executives in developing projects for their areas.)

Her largest project will have 2 main thrusts. She will be trying to telephone ALL people who receive Breaking Ground in order to develop a “Customer Profile” of our readership. The call should take 5 or 10 minutes. As part of the call, she will be asking questions on the potential for providing underused farm products such as excess hay, straw, and forest resources as a source for pelletized biomass for the developing “Alternate Energy” industry.

We are sure that you will enjoy meeting Kelly, either in person or by telephone. Remember, she is working not just for the NEOSCIA but for all Northern farmers. In return, let her know about upcoming employment opportunities in YOUR area. That is the payoff for her coming year of promoting our northern agricultural industry. She requires full time employment after completing her term, and you may be able to help.

Contact Kelly at the New Liskeard OMAFRA office at 705-647-2089, or by internet at internneoscia@ntl.sympatico.ca.

SUMMER 2009

ASCIA Spring Twilight Farm Tour- June 10

Sharon Lane– Regional Correspondent

The spring meeting for Algoma Soil and Crop Improvement Association (ASCIA) was a tour at Les and Penny Hillstrom’s farm near Bruce Mines in the evening on June 10.

The editor of Breaking Ground, Graham Gambles, introduced Keith Reid, soil fertility specialist from OMAFRA at Stratford. Reid asked Les and Paul Hillstrom questions about their farm and explained the significance of the various techniques they use. They use both liquid and solid manure. There is a lag for solid manure when applied in the fall or spring until the ground warms up so there is a slow release of nutrients. If liquid manure is applied, then some of the ammonia and nitrogen is lost into the air. If the liquid manure is worked into the soil within one or two days or if it rains after application, then it is not lost. Injection reduces the odour, and there are fewer complaints from the neighbours. Ploughed ground allows nitrogen to get into the ground and bind with the soil particles.

The Hillstroms also use crop rotation: corn for two years; three years of seeding, the first year barley and then alfalfa; and then silage corn. Their fertilizing program besides using manure is 110 lbs. of 17-26-17 commercial fertilizer. The soil test for the Hillstrom farm was 6.5 Reid explained the value of the soil test. If the test shows that the nutrient level is high, then there is no need to fertilize, but if the level is low, then there is a need and the farmer gets paid back in crop production.

He then explained the benefit of banding versus applying. Corn, wheat and barley need phosphorus early as a starter-effect; therefore, the fertilizer needs to be close to the seed and this can be achieved with banding. Banding potash gives a better yield if this nutrient is low, but if too high, the seed can be burnt.

He discussed the effect of compaction of the soil when applying fertilizer. The amount of compaction will depend on the type of tire and the air pressure used. If fertilizer is applied to frozen soil, there is no compaction, but the fertilizer will often run-off into creeks or lakes if it rains while the ground is still frozen. It is best to work the nutrients into the ground by ploughing the field.

In discussing the high cost of fertilizer this spring, Reid said that the fertilizer was bought last fall because it has to be shipped up the St. Lawrence Seaway before freeze-up and at that time the price was high. It has since dropped, but this will not be reflected until next spring. The potash companies are cutting production not price. He mentioned that 60% of what is fed to animals returns as manure; however, it is a false economy to buy feed to put manure on fields. According to Reid, China sets the price of urea, and Canada imports 2/3 of its supply mainly from North Africa, Russia and Egypt and about 97% of potash is produced in Canada, mainly Saskatchewan.

The evening meeting then continued. Graham Gambles mentioned that test plots are needed for methods to control Smooth Bedstraw, which came with trefoil seed about 20 years ago. Gambles told the gathering that Nipissing University has set up weather stations at Verner and Temiskaming and that this information is downloaded on to the Internet every 30 minutes. Laurentian University is doing a study in the Sudbury area on the effect of calcium chloride on milk fever.

Jonathon Stewart reported no news on the Environmental Farm Plan while Dave Trivers, OMAFRA, mentioned that he had copies of the Algoma E-Bulletin for those who wanted a paper copy and an information sheet on accessing the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund.

Those attending enjoyed pop and donuts, provided through Terry Philips from the “Co-op Regional”, and coffee and desserts from the Hillstroms at the end of the twilight meeting.

SUMMER 2009

Nipissing Univeristy Establishing Collaborative

Research Partnership with NEOSCIA

Faculty and students from Nipissing University’s Department of Geography are excited to begin examining potential research collaborations with various representatives from NOSCIA. Our initiative is to examine the changing agricultural environment, but more importantly, the adaptive strategies that farmers make to

ensure sustainable and competitive agricultural practices in Northeastern Ontario. Specifically, we are interested in how farmers contend with changes to climate, government policy, and global market conditions. Being from North Bay we are optimistic that long lasting collaborative ventures will enable students, faculty, and the farming community to benefit from this mutual partnership.

As an initial step in studying environmental conditions affecting farming practices, the Department of Geography is establishing a series of weather stations in conjunction with Kevin Runnalls web cam initiative. With the assistance of Gerald Beaudry, the first station was set up on May 15th in Verner, with past and present weather data now accessible at the following web site (http://www.hobolink.com/p/d90d9501cd8e9df-55be47c3f00c9c126). In the near future we hope to initiate a brief software training session for interested members of NEOSCIA who could use this information. For example sessions could include calculating other pertinent data such as growing degree days and mixing (humidity) ratios from this weather station information.

In the following months we would like continue to meet with members of the farming community and support agencies to refine potential topics of investigation. This feedback would allow us to investigate specific ideas that target Northeastern Ontario farming points of interest. For more information please feel free to contact Graham Gambles or Drs. Kovacs, O’Hagan or Walters at 705-474-3461.

The first collaborative NEOSCIA-Nipissing University weather station placed in Verner. From left to right Dr. Dan Walters, Gerald Beaudry, Dr. John Kovacs, Dr. Sean O’Hagan and Nipissing Geography students Autumn and Kelly.

WINTER 2008/2009

“Growing Your Opportunities” Conference

Sharon Lane–Regional Correspondent

Northern Ontario Agri-Food Education & Marketing Inc. sponsored “Growing Your Opportunities” conference in Sudbury, November 29, 2008 with an overflowing crowd. The keynote speaker, Margaret Webb, the author of Apples & Oysters: A Food Lover’s Tour of Canadian Farms, spoke on “Who’s Your Farmer?”

Ms. Webb said that everyone could answer the question “Who’s your doctor?” or “Who’s your financial planner?” or even “Who’s your personal trainer?” but no one could answer “Who’s your farmer?” To her, the farmer is the most important person in the food chain.

The reality of the farmers situation was brought home to her during the August 2003 Blackout in Toronto. She thought that it was fun at first being able to see the stars and using candlelight; then she started to worry about not being able to buy food, not being able to get money and the safety of Toronto’s water. She went to the family farm only to realize that the crops were gone, the beef cattle were gone and her mother’s garden was gone. The crops were replaced by genetically modified ones. The beef cattle were now in large feedlots. Her vegetables had to come from foreign countries. Canadian farmers do not produce a great deal of our food. Canada has a $4 million food deficit.

In 2007, the book The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating was published and people accepted the idea whole-heartedly. Webb realized that people wanted local food and were willing to pay for it. Farmers’ Market began to be popular. Chefs wanted local Canadian ingredients for their menus. But, according to Ms. Webb, the local farmer was missing because of the economic challenges; they were going bankrupt or leaving the family farms. She stated that the average age of a farmer in Ontario today is 53. The way of the future is “environmentally sustainable farming”. Clean farming practices reduce the cost to governments. Organic farming actually produces more food, meets the climate challenge and vitalizes rural communities. In referring to Hugh MacLennan’s book Two Solitudes, she says today the two solitudes are not the English and French but the urban and rural; the city folks are disconnected to their food source, the farmer.

Ms. Webb feels that the large industrialized farmers are only concerned about their input costs and the yield so they use genetically modified seed, chemicals, drugs and growth hormones. They are not concerned about the taste of the food, or the damage they do to the environment or people’s health.

Ms. Webb quoted a startling statistic: only 7% of the $1 that is spent for food is for the actual food; the rest is for the middlemen.

The city people and the farmers must work together to have local organic food. It will probably mean coming up with new ways and new models. According to the keynote speaker, farms in the future must be small, biodiverse and environmentally sustainable.

WINTER 2008/2009

Murray Cochrane for President

Sharon Lane–Regional Correspondent

Murray Cochrane, first vice-president of Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA),was born and raised on a mixed farming operation at Ivy, south of Barrie, Ontario. He attended the University of Guelph where he met his wife, Norma Seabrook of Thessalon Twp., and in 1980, they moved to her parent’s farm westof Thessalon. Norma and Murray are the third generation to farm at this location. Norma’s grandfather bought the farm in 1916. The Cochranes were dairy farmers until 1995 when they switched to a cow/calf beef operation. They currently finish about 1/3 to for freezer trade sales, and the rest are sold at the fall Thessalon Cattle Sale. They also grow horse hay as a cash crop. The majority of the forages, small grains and corn are fed on their farm.

Murray has been a director for the Algoma Soil and Crop Improvement Association (ASCIS) since 1985 as well as a member of both the Algoma Cattlemen Association and the Algoma Milk Committee. He has been a director of OSCIA since 2002, representing Algoma, Manitoulin and Sudbury districts. His presidency is expected to be ratified at the annual meeting of the OSCIA in Niagara Falls in February 2009.

Commencing at the annual meeting in February, the eight local Soil and Crop Improvement Associations in the Northeastern Region will be represented by one director. A committee, chaired by Janet Parsons, has come up with a business plan to deal with the distances and improve communications in the Northeastern Region. Part of the business plan was to create a “caravan of excellence” that would bring specialists to each of the eight districts in the region to discuss such topics as nutrient management and hoe skills on growing crops like corn soybeans, forages, small grains and speciality crops. Murray has envisaged that the Northeastern Region’s newsletter, Breaking Ground, will be the medium for agriculture in Northeastern Ontario. He also believes that the Northeastern area is the new frontier of agriculture and biomass production. The Northeastern Region has millions of acres of unused or underused land that could produce switchgrass or willow for energy production.

Murray says that there are opportunities for farmers to work with local industries to produce biomass for the co-generation of energy. Some of these biomasses could be Reed- Canary grass, willow trees, straw or switchgrass. The companies have been using waste products (hog fuel) from the forestry industry, but as fuel gets more expensive and the distances further, the cultivation of biomass locally becomes more feasible. Agriculture in the future will not only concentrate on the production of food but will include fuel and fibre. One area of concern where he feels more research has to be done is on the long-term effects to soil fertility and organic matter from total plant removal.

Murray believes investment in agriculture infrastructure in the Northeast will open opportunities for farmers to expand, diversify their operations and market their products locally. Branding of products not only increases profit on the farm but also gives the consumer an option to buy locally from people he or she know and trust.

Algoma hosted the Provincial OSCIA Director Summer Meeting in August 2008, which was attended by people from literally all over the province and with the International Plowing Match being held in Temiskaming in 2009, the Northeast Region has the opportunity to showcase what it has, who they are and what it has to offer.

Provincially, OSCIA is anticipating the next chapter of the Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) that will go into effect April 1, 2009, supported through “Growing Forward”, the next agricultural policy framework. Program intentions shared by OMAFRA officials suggest that the Third Edition EFP workbook, deemed appropriate through peer review, will continue to be one eligibility requirement to participate in the cost share program. In efforts to reach a broader group of farmers and get them ready for the new opportunities, county/ district EFP workshops will continue over the winter. OSCIA will also be in charge of program delivery this winter of a business management program, “Growing Your Farm Profits”. The exercise includes participation at a workshop and completion of a self assessment workbook and action plan from which farmers can plan business strategies. Details are being developed as OSCIA works with government and other partners. Up to 30 workshops across Ontari oare planned between January and March 2000. OSCIA will share more information with farmers as it becomes available.

To the question of how to increase membership in the OSCIA, Murray says the association needs to “show value for membership”. For example, for the last two years, the membership fee for the OSCIA allowed members free entry to and breakfast at the Outdoor Farm Show at Woodstock. He says that OSCIA and its activities and its communication benefits all farmers.

Murray says that OSCIA wants to build on a strong strategic partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs(OMAFRA) staff, researchers at the University of Guelph and the OSCIA membership so that the research results conducted at the university gets to the farmers.

FALL 2008

Giant Pumpkin Surpasses Pervious Record

NORTHERN ONTARIO – Northern Ontario Agri-Food Education & Marketing Inc. (NOAFEM) again sponsored an annual Giant Pumpkin Contest with weigh-ins in four locations across Northern Ontario: Central Manitoulin Public School Fair in Mindemoya, Sudbury’s Anderson Farm Museum Fall Fair, Desbarats Farmers’ Market, and New Liskeard Fall Fair. The contest was supported in part by funding from The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), an agency of the Government of Ontario.

The winning pumpkin, weighing 522.5 pounds, was entered at the Anderson Farm Museum’s Fall Fair in Lively, successfully beating the previous record of 465 pounds. Rene Gravelle grew his winning entry at his home in Hanmer.

The largest entry in New Liskeard was won by Alexander McMillan- Pipe of New Liskeard while Dexter Bowerman of Spring Bay placed first at Central Manitoulin Public School.

In addition to Giant Pumpkin, the competition included three other categories: Most Perfect Shape,Most Unusual Shape and Smallest.

At Anderson Farm Museum, Ryan Marcotte of Wahnapitae won first in Most Perfect Shape with one pumpkin and placed in the Smallest category with another. Reese Marcotte of Wahnapitae took first in the Smallest category.

Each entry was eligible to win a gift basket donated by McClelland’s Hardware & Feed of Desbarats, which was won by Alexander McMillan-Pipe.

Plans are now underway for 2009’s Pumpkinfest to include pumpkin baking with entries being accepted for Pies, Muffins and Cookies.

Who will be the first to grow a pumpkin in excess of 1,000pounds? This challenge has been issued. Can it be met?

For more information about Pumpkinfest, contact Myrna Barager, Project Manager, at 705-842-5533 or e-mail collie@vianet.ca.

FALL 2008

“Growing Your Opportunities”

NEWS RELEASE

SUDBURY — Northern Ontario Agri-Food Education & Marketing (NOAFEM), with the assistance of FedNor, the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs, will be presenting “GROWing Your Opportunities” Conference on Saturday, November 29. The conference will focus on Capturing Local Food Opportunities — in Northern Ontario.

The keynote address: “Local Food — Focusing on the Farmer” will feature Margaret Webb, journalist, author of Apples to Oysters: A Food Lover’s Tour of Canadian Farms and a promoter of local foods. The morning panel, Make It Happen — success in reaching retail, will feature Raymond Savage manager of Co-operative Regionale de Nipissing/Sudbury; Dan Poulin of Don Poulin Potatoes Inc., Sudbury District; Troy Isaac of Last Mountain Berry Farms, Algoma District; and Will Samis of the Penokean Hills Farms Beef Producers, Algoma District.

Following a hot lunch, Dorene Collins and Carl Fletcher of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs will update attendees on The What? The Who? And The Why! Understanding food and Value Added Regulations.

Rose Diebolt, owner of Garden’s Gate Restaurant in Tehkummah, Manitoulin Island, and Nancy Guppy, Guppy’s Landing, Nipissing District, will address “Filling The Order – from farm to the plate.” Wrapping up the afternoon will be a discussion of distribution models, Rebuilding The Middle – innovative distribution models. This panel will feature Diana Bockus of the Food Buyers’ Group, Thunder Bay District; Mark Trealout of Kawartha Ecological Growers, and Dave Lewington, Dalew Farm, Sudbury District.

This exciting conference will take place at the Canadian Hearing Society, 1233 Paris Street, Sudbury. The registration fee of $20, due by November 3, includes a hot lunch. The application form is available online at http://www.norontagrifood.org or by calling 1-705-694-4396.Mission: Northern Ontario Agri-Food Education & Marketing Inc. educates consumers, processors and retailers on the agri-food industry in Northern Ontario, while assisting producers with marketing initiatives.

FALL 2008

NEOSCIA News

Janet Parsons

The NEOSCIA summer meeting and tour was hosted by Algoma district on August 6, 2008. After the meeting in Bruce Mines, the group toured very impressive fields, including corn plots at Vic Fremlins, winter wheat fields at Paul Oikaris and alfalfa forage at Hillstroms. Les and Pauline Hillstrom hosted the lunch and provided the site for the GPS/auto steer demonstration by Jordon Wallace of GPS Ontario.

The number one use of GPS is for spraying. Tillage and fertilizer application are close behind. Proper application of fertilizer and sprays saves fuel and input costs. A GPS auto steer system is eligible for funding under EFP and the Canada- Ontario Farm Stewardship Cost share Program. Call your local EFP co-ordinator for details.

The NEOSCIA board of directors will be having a fall conference call to finalize the constitution and prepare for the election of the first Northeastern Ontario board member to OSCIA under the new provincial constitution.

Murray and Norma Cochrane put on a real ‘show’ for OSCIA board members attending the summer board meeting in Algoma. Murray had picture-perfect corn fields flanking the site of the outdoor barbeque and the sun shone making for a glorious evening.

Many of the OSCIA directors had never been to northern Ontario so this was an opportunity to see what’s going onup here…a prelude to the International Ploughing Match next fall in Earlton.

Many directors took time to extend their visit and stopped in at Science North in Sudbury as well as other attractions. This was an opportunity to showcase northern Ontario and I’d like to thank Murray and Norma for being such wonderful hosts.

FALL 2007

NEOSCIA Summer Tour Features Combine Clinic

The summer Tour is back and farmers from across the north made the trek toWest Nipissing in July to participate in the daylong event.

The morning program, held at the farm of Janet and John Parsons, was acombine and header clinic led by Dwight Eby of Elmira Farm Service. He explained the importance of making sure the header settings are correct and how to make the adjustments. The same for the combine. Dwight also did a walk around of the head and the combine pointing out maintenance requirements and pinpointing crucial areas farmers too often neglect resulting in breakdowns.

Crop seed/ft^2 for 1 bushel loss per acre

barley 15

corn 2

oats 12 to 17

soybean 4 to 10

wheat 16 to 22

Dwight said there is nothing you can do about preharvest losses when the combine is going into the field but you need to know what they are to determine the header and separation losses. If header loss is a significant part of the loss, check adjustments and perhaps consider a different head.

If the loss is from separation, check adjustments. Always try to eliminate unthreshed losses by decreasing the concave clearance before increasing cylinder speed. Excessive cylinder speed is the leading cause of grain damaged. Set the sieve to the widest and work back if required. Watch the fan speed. Start with the highest and work down if required.

Elmira Farm Service provided two videos on combine and header operation for loan purposes. These are available from Janet Parsons.

FALL 2007

Verner Research Test Site Features Fertilizer BMP

Trials

John Rowsell of the NLARS described the various research projects at the Verner site to more than 60 participants during the Northeastern Ontario Summer Tour in West Nipissing. Two of the major projects are part of the OSCIA fertilizer BMP trials. One deals with sulphur requirements for canola.

There has been speculation that decreasing atmospheric deposition of sulphur, due to pollution mitigation, has led to a need to apply S fertilizer to canola. This project will test this thesis with controlled replicated samples. The other project deals with the maximum safe rates of N placed with the seed of canola. Currently most of the nitrogen is surface applied. The thesis is that if the N can be placed in close proximity to the seed it will maximize N use and reduce losses through volatilization of ammonia and surface run off. Other research involves flax and cereal crops.

John Rowsell describes the Verner Test Site plots (located south of Verner on Hwy 64) during the NEOSCIA summer tour.

The tour also visited the farm of Steven Roberge to look at white beans and winter wheat. This is the second year that Steven has grown white beans and he is pleased with the results. Jean Guy Seguin is the West Nipissing participant in the‘canola production system trials’ (see article elsewhere in Breaking Ground). Jean Guy showed the group the plots and outlined his costs. The final stop on the tour was at the farm of Gerald Beaudry where Bill Hagborg of the Lake Nipissing Stewardship Council talked about rive bank stabilization and the proposed tree planting program for West Nipissing. Bill pointed out the difference from the one side of the river to the other. The one had been grazed right to the river while the other side was not. Natural groundcover and brush protected the riverbank on the one side while the other was barren….a stark contrast. Gerald Beaudry, a Seed Grower, showed the group his field of red clover which he is harvesting for seed. A local dairy farmer took off the first cut and the second cut is being left to set seed for harvest in October.

FALL 2007

North-Eastern Ontario Loses Two More Board

Members in OSCIA Restructuring Proposal

Janet Parsons– NEOSCIA president

For a number of years the provincial board of OSCIA has discussed the need to restructure the representation on the provincial board. The proposal that was accepted at the August board meeting for presentation to the membership at the annual meeting proposes one board member per region. This reduces the number of board members from northeastern Ontario from three to one and the provincial board from 19 to 11. While the objective is to reduce overlap of board member duties and regional Co-ordinator territories, this is not an issue in the northeast. However, for fair representation for provincial governance issues, one director from the northeast is proposed.

The unique problem in the northeast is distance between farming communities. NEOSCIA directors discussed the one board member proposal and supported the idea with conditions. A business case is being prepared for more funding to make it possible for NEOSCIA directors to meet and carry out the business of the organization in an effective manner.

NEOSCIA is always looking for innovative ways of serving its diverse and scattered membership. Breaking Ground is the number one communication tool and new ideas are constantly being introduced. Commentsand suggestions and always welcome.

The vote on the proposed restructuring will take place at the provincial annual meeting in Niagara Falls in February. Make sure your local delegate is ready to vote. If youhave comments or questions please contact your board member: Murray Cochrane, Bill Muggler, or  Janet Parsons.

FALL 2007

Northen Farmers to Attend Circumpolar Conference

Northern Ontario Agri – Food Education & Marketing Inc. is pleased to announce its delegates to the Circumpolar Agricultural Association Conference in Happy Valley – Goose Bay Labrador, October 1st to 3rd, 2007. Applications were received from across Northern Ontario. Partia funding for the project was received from the Agriculture Adaptation Council and Agriculture and Agri- Food Canada through CanAdvance. This project is developed in partnership with the Northern Ontario Federations of Agriculture.

Northern Ontario Agri – Food Education & Marketing Inc. wishes to thank all who applied for this unique opportunity. The committee needs to be recognized for its efforts in securing funding, marketing the opportunity, and ensuring a fair and transparent selection process. The delegates selected will represent the Northern Ontario agriculture community at this conference.

Matthew (Matt) Duke, District of Temiskaming. Matt and his wife Carol own and operate Terza Farms, which consists of a 420 sow farrowing unit, processing piglets for the feeder industry and an on-farm flour milling business. They crop over 240 acres with product being directed to both livestock feed requirements and their flour mill.

Birgit Martin, District of Manitoulin Birgit and her husband Jim own and operate a beef cow-calf, feedlot and cash crop operation on Manitoulin Island. They own 75 Shorthorn, Angus and commercial cows, selling purebred stock, stockers and finished cattle. In addition, they board 30 cows on a permanent basis, producing a pre conditioned calf for the owners. In 2007, they are cropping, share-cropping and custom harvesting approximately 750 acres of hay, barley, winter wheat and corn.

Christina Mol, District of Thunder Bay Born and raised on a dairy and field crop farm, Christina is the Research and Extension Intern with the Thunder Bay Agricultural Research Association (TBARA). She is involved in the stoneground wheat mill pilot project in Thunder Bay and is acting as a liaison with grain producers in the region. Beginning this fall, Christina will be pursuing a Masters degree in biology with a focus on agricultural soils in Northern Ontario through Lakehead University.

Janet Parsons, District of Nipissing Janet and her husband John, under Roche Court Farms, operate a 500 acre cash crop business, growing winter and spring hard red wheat, canola, oats, barley, soybeans and clover for forage, seed and green manure. In addition, Janet is certified Financial Planner and works as an executive assistant in an agricultural accounting business.

Robert (Bob) Wall, District of Kenora With over 50 years experience in agriculture, Bob is well-known for his innovation and leadership to the development and diversification of the agricultural industry in the District of Kenora. From crop production to agriculture infrastructure development, Bob has experimented extensively with new commodities; production practices; technology utilization; and marketing systems and has a wealth of knowledge that he willing shares with others.

A founding member of the Kenora District Federation of Agriculture, Bob continues to provide leadership to this organization as well as the Kenora District Soil and Crop Improvement Association, the Dryden Agricultural Society and the Environmental Farm Plan Peer Review Committee. He is active in crop research and hosts demonstration plots on his farm.

SPRING 2007

Timmins Farm Wins Business of the Year Award

 In April The Timmins Chamber Of Commerce held their fourth annual Nov Awards to recognize excellence in business. The Nova Awards were established in 2003 as a way to recognize the accomplishments of Timmins area businesses. For the 2007 ceremony more than 60 nominations were received for consideration in the fourteen award categories. One of this year’s recipients was Haasen Farms Limited, a Timmins dairy herd operation, which was recognized with the Business of The Year award for companies with one to five employees. Haasen Farms Limited was nominated for this prestigious award by Andre Legault, of Legault Sod Farms. The farm is run by Frank and Ivy Haasen with help from their youngest son Eddy, Frank’s father John as well as their herdsman Jim Kirkman.

The Haasen farm was originally purchased by John Haasen and his wife Dina shortly after they emigrated from Holland in 1959. At that time the farm consisted of 23 milking cows and 159 acres. Their son Frank, who is now the primary operator of the farm, joined the family business in 1975 after graduating from the agricultural program at New Liskeard College. Today the farm has grown to over 500 acres with 80 milking cows, producing over 2100 litres of milk a day. Frank’s youngest son Eddy has recently joined the family business after completing a two year diploma at Kemptville College.

The Haasens are part of a dying breed in the Timmins area, though there were four dairy farms in Timmins less than ten years ago, today only their operationremains. There are many hurdles that must be over come to farm in the sometimes harsh climate in Timmins, but the Haasens have taken an innovative approach to running their operation. They started installing tile in 1976 to help with drainage, and now over half a million feet of it run through their fields. This has allowed Haasen Farms Limited to produce larger volumes of more nutritious feed for their cattle. The Haasens also have to deal with a lack of agricultural suppliers in the Timmins area. To resolve this problem they often deal with suppliers of the mining and forestry industry, who are well equipped to service some of their needs.

The Nova Award is not the first honor Haasen Farms Limited has received for excellence in Business. The farm was award the Gold Seal Certificate of Excellence in 2006 from the Dairy Farmers of Ontario for “shipping milk of excellent quality.” In 2006 their BCA was 220 milk, 228fat and 227 for protein. Haasens have also won several awards from individual cows. Since 2000 they have been the highest producing herd in the Cochrane district. Haasen Farms Limited has been well established in the farming community for many years, and now it seems that they are catching the attention of their business counterparts in the city of Timmins. They are proof that the family farm can still thrive in Northern Ontario.

SPRING 2007

North Eastern Ontario Winners of Award for Agri-

Innovation Excellence

Janet Parsons–Director

Five districts in North Eastern Ontario had regional winners in the Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence. More than 230 individuals and businesses across Ontario shared their ideas, inventions and innovations.A committee of their peers selected just 55 to be presented with the award. Mack Emiry of Sudbury West was one of the judges. The following were selected as regional winners.

Muskoka District – SAVOUR Muskoka is a collective of farmers united with two clear objectives: to provide regional and unique products to consumers and to promote agri-businesses in the region. The successful marketing program includes a logo and wide promotion of the products.This initiative has revitalized local producers in the region. Muskoka Soil and Crop Improvement Associationwas a founding member of SAVOUR Muskoka (SM) and many of its members are SM members.

Algoma District – Algoma Cattlemen’s Association – Internet marketing has allowed members of this association to directly market whole animals to the consumer in convenient 25 and 50 pound packages. Producers are happy with their returns and customers keep returning for the quality beef. The future looks bright as this association

expands into a year-round business. Nipissing District – Roche Court Farms – Finding specialized service for farm equipment in the north was not easy until the Parsons hit on and developed the idea of having a team from John Deere visit their community to provide repair and maintenance for several farmers at once. This has saved many farmers excess overhead costs and down time.

Manitoulin District – Burt Farm country Meats – Max Burt has a good business going, now that he has added meat processing and retail sales to his organic sow production operation. Burt learned how to cure and smoke the meat he was producing and he also converted workshop space into a retail outlet. Now, he has a sustainable, vertically integrated and profitable establishment.

Parry Sound District –Spring Valley Farms – Keeping livestock safe, sound and profitable during transport inspired James Zulak to invent a bumper system to protect animals in trailers. The bumper system has been mouldedout of a polymer called Salflex 562, a product used by automobile makers. This profitable endeavour has provided a useful tool that can be added to any trailer for the safe transportation of all livestock.

This is a 5 year program and farmers are encouraged to participate. For a complete list of winners and guidelines for next years’ competition, go to the OMAFRA website.

SPRING 2006

New Post Selling Region’s Agricultural Potential

Diane Johnston– Temiskaming Speaker Reporter

Selling farming opportunities in the Temiskaming area to prospective newcomers is part of the job description for a new post.

“We’ve seen an influx of farmers from southern Ontario and we want to increase that with a very positive campaign,”said Darlene Bowen, recently named the region’s agriculture projects manager.

The new job is a contract position funded by FedNor and working with the South Temiskaming Community Futures Development of fice in Haileybury. Her region extends beyond southern Temiskaming north to Matheson and Cochrane and south to the Powassan and Verner areas.

The farming industry in Temiskaming and the North is familiar ground for Mrs. Bowen.

A lifelong resident of the area, she currently heads the New Liskeard Agricultural Society and is a director on the Temiskaming Federation of Agriculture. She is a former chair of the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association and recently stepped down as the Ontario Federation of Agriculture’s member services representative in the Northeast to take up the new position.

In her new job, she’ll also work with the area’s agricultural organizations on specific projects.

They include a look at the possibility of an oilseed crushing plant in the area, crops-related research and development, and work with the private sector in the recycling of farm wastes.

LION’S SHARE

But the lion’s share of the job, she said, will be exposing a broader audience to Northeastern Ontario’s farm sector and its potential.

To that end, she’s developing a presentation in conjunction with the region’s agricultural groups that can be displayed at major farm-themed events in southern Ontario.

The line-up in the coming year includes stops at the International Plowing Match in Peterborough, the Ottawa Valley Farm Show, Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show in Woodstock, and the Canadian International Farm Equipment Show in Toronto.

“A lot of the information that we will be using in our awareness campaign will come out of the agriculture impact study, so we’ll have factual numbers to draw from,” she said, referring to the wide-ranging Temiskaming study published in 2004.

But she’ll also be pushing the nonfarming attributes of the region. “What we’re promoting is a lifestyle and a culture and the opportunity to get out of the congestion,” she said.

SPRING 2006

Growing the Ideal Malting Barley

Diane Johnston–Temiskaming Speaker Reporter

The search continues for a Northern malting barley that suits brewers’ tastes.

New Liskeard researchers are in the second year of a project experimenting with growing techniques to produce

plumper barley kernels that satisfy beer brewers’ neåeds.

Temiskaming has a proven track record in growing malting barley.

But the highest yielding varieties are typically higher in protein than brewers want. Protein inhibits barley’s

filtration, producing a cloudier beer that takes longer to settle. By manipulating the way in which barley is grown, the result may be bigger kernels with more starch that will in effect dilute the protein content, explained John Rowsell, researcher at the New Liskeard Agricultural Research Station.

In the quest for bigger kernels, researchers will try different seeding rates, fungicide applications and rates of nitrogen use on two-row and six-row barley varieties. But a larger kernel could also have application in the human food market.

Barley, like oats, “is very hearthealthy,” Mr. Rowsell said.

An Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada centre in Winnipeg is working on giving conventional food products a twist by using barley.

To capitalize on industry interest, he said, the Holy Grail in North eastern barley production would be a hulless variety.

But researchers have found that varieties that successfully shed their hulls in other regions stubbornly hold on to them in the Northeast.

The next best thing would be a larger kernel which, with hull removed, would be more attractive for commercial use, he said.

SPRING 2006

Ag Returns to College Program

Diane Johnston– Reporter for Temiskaming Speaker

More than a decade after the closure of the New Liskeard Agricultural College, farming is back on the post-secondary curriculum in the Tri-Towns.

In September, Northern College’s Haileybury campus will introduce a one year agriculture certificate program.

Program coordinator Pat Hamilton said she’d like to see an enrolment of at least a dozen students “but certainly we could accommodate double that.”

She said the course is designed with two audiences in mind – newcomers to farming related agribusiness and anyone considering getting into the field. It’s also been drafted to tie into Timiskaming District Secondary School’s new agritech program.

“The community came forward and said, ‘we need something here,’” she said.

The Northern College course covers the basics of crop and animal production, machinery repair, health and safety, and environmental issues.

“Everybody needs information about nutrient management, risk management, machinery repair,” she said.

Students will also visit local farms as part of the course and use facilities at local businesses that are partners with the college in the new endeavour, she said.

SPRING 2006

Ag Shows Plows Up Crowd

Diane Johnston– Temiskaming Speaker Reporter

Like many 40-year olds, the North Eastern Ontario Agricultural Conference and Trade Show opted for a slight makeover.

The annual showcase of farming info and technology, held March 31 and April 1 at the New Liskeard research station’s riding arena, tried a few new strategies in an effort to lift its appeal.

About 1,100 visitors paid to take in this year’s fortieth annual event.

They saw the latest in farm equipment from dealers both inside and beyond the region. Suppliers of goods and services to the farming and non-farming community were also on hand to make new business contacts.

Meanwhile, visitors could also take in conference sessions on beef and forage research, the Opasatika mushroom farm, successful farm succession, and healthy rural lifestyles.

To make it easier for parents to drop by, supervised children’s activities were offered for a three-hour period on March 31 and were attended at one point by some 60 children.

More advertising dollars were spent to promote the event in near-by northwestern Quebec, and conference speakers offered French-language presentations that drew two dozen on March 31.

And a dozen vendors focusing on lifestyles – hobbies, art, home decorating, and health and wellness – were also on site in an effort to attract a non-farming crowd.

“I’ve had two more people who would be eligible asking if they could be in it for next year,” said Graham Gambles, regional communications coordinator with the North Eastern Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (NEOSCIA), one of the event’s organizers.

The NEOSCIA conducted a survey of visitors to determine the event’s current audience.

Of the approximately 700 adults who completed a survey, three-quarters came from within Temiskaming. Almost 40 per cent were considered to be from urban areas in Temiskaming Shores and Cobalt, while a quarter were from the rural area surrounding Temiskaming Shores and Belle Vallée. (The urban component would have included farmers with postal boxes in Temiskaming Shores.)

About eight per cent of the survey-completing visitors came from Quebec, mainly from neighbouring Témiscamingue.

Six per cent travelled from Cochrane, while about five per cent came from Sudbury.

Nipissing, Parry Sound, Algoma,Manitoulin, Muskoka and southern Ontario accounted for about five per cent overall.

Mr. Gambles said it’ll take at least a second year to gauge if the changes in the event’s format lead to a higher turnout.

But he said the feedback he’s received to date has been positive. He would like to see a higher turnout al the NEOSCIA annual luncheon, at which two farmers – Ron Bailey of Thornloe and Stephen Mailloux of Walford – received awards of merit in recognition of their contribution to the region’s agricultural community.

Only about 40 people attended this year’s luncheon, held in the arena’s upstairs mezzanine.

Planning has begun for the 2007 event.

Mr. Gambles said required improvements to the site’s electrical system are already underway.

This year’s event was also helped by a grant of up to $9,400 from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund.

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