Ontario Agriculture College Northern Ontario Ag Tour 2017
By Emily Potter, Project Assistant for Beef North
For the second year, a group of Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) students from the University of Guelph made the trip up north for the OAC Northern Ontario Ag Tour. The idea for a trip to Northern Ontario for students to learn about agricultural opportunities in the north started when fellow studen Tanja Gahwiler and I were driving around one summer, talking about how few of our peers had been up north. Being from Northern Ontario, we wanted to show them what a unique area it is. After running a successful first tour in the Temiskaming area in fall 2016, Thomas Bowman (another student) and I decided to take the project on again, this time extending it to four days and making it up to Cochrane and Kapuskasing.
Thanks to our enthusiastic sponsors and in partnership with Beef Farmers of Ontario, we were once again able to bring a bus of 50 students to the north. The tour took place at the end of September 2017, beginning with a stop at Markus Wand's sheep farm in Powassan. We then deaded to New Liskeard, where we had supper and a tour at Seeson Ranch. The second day, we headed further north to Jason Desrochers' farm to look at some land clearing projects. After a quick stop for lunch, we learned about dairy sheep production and beef production at Andrew Gordanier's farm in Kapuskasing. Following that, we got a first-hand tutorial on specialty cheese-making at Fromagerie Kapuskoise in Kaspuskasing, where they graciously provided us with cheese samples and a cheese fondue supper.
We began making our way back to the New Liskeard area on the third day of the tour. We toured Potter's Golden Meadow Farms to learn about grazing practices and cattle genetics, Koch Farms to learn about cropping systems in Northern Ontario, Chris and Anna Regele's brand new Jersey dairy barn, and Brad Noyes' beef operation with it's unique watering system. Beef Farmers of Ontario's current president Matt Bowman hosted us at his farm for a tour and dinner, where he also talked about agricultural opportunities up north and the Beef North project. We travelled back to Guelph on our final day, with a quick stop at Johnston's Cranberry Marsh and Muskoka Lakes Winery to see the cranberry harvest.
The group was enthusiastic to visit the north, and had some great things to say about the area:
"My favourite part was getting to visit Koch Farms. I appreciated the opportunity to learn about the cropping practices used and to compare them to our own practices in Southern Ontario. At each stop of the tour I was grateful for the farm host's willingness to answer all of our group's extensive questions. I never realized that Northern Ontario had so many potential opportunities, especially for feeding cattle." Kelvin Knip, 4th year Crop Science student
“The Northern Ag Tour was a great opportunity to learn about pasturing beef and all of the great options and experiences the north has to offer. Through farm tours we gained knowledge and industry connections, which will aid us in the future. This tour opened doors for all of the participants and allowed us to consider other management systems and a different style of agriculture compared to what most of us are used to. The Northern Ag Tour was a very positive experience and I hope that it will continue to run in the coming years.” – Allison Brown, 3rd year Animal Science student
“From this northern agricultural experience, I learned that the north is a prosperous area where agriculture can excel. With the low land prices and the rich clay soil, there are many great opportunities for farming. My favourite part about the northern agriculture tour was broadening my horizons and getting out of my dairy comfort zone and learning more about other types of agriculture (beef, sheep, etc.)! I found it very interesting that sheep could stay outside in the winter! Agriculture is important in the north because it creates jobs, provides more local food options, and builds a stronger community. Overall, this northern agriculture trip was fun and educational and I would definitely go on this trip again in the future.” – Taylor Flewwelling, 1st year Agriculture Science student
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