“Canola: A Canadian Story of Innovation” begins National Tour

Originally published in the March 2017  issue of Canola Digest


Sandi Knight photo

What happens Canada’s 150th birthday and Canola’s 50th anniversary collide? The Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum (CAFM) in Ottawa celebrates with a nation-wide tour of a new travelling exhibition, “Canola: A Canadian Story of Innovation”. This exhibit made its debut at Canola Council of Canada’s “Good As Gold” 50th Annual Convention in Winnipeg on March 7—9. It will be on display at Winnipeg Richardson International Airport in the arrivals hall through March 23rd.

Designed to tell the story of canola to Canadians, this 500-square-foot exhibit is interactive, hands-on and designed for all ages. It is comprised of two C-shaped configurations — one to make you feel immersed in a field of canola, the other as though you are walking into a processing plant. It will highlight canola’s versatility from cooking oil to canola meal, biofuels, ink, plastics and cosmetics. Visitors will learn the history — from a crop that didn’t exist 50 years ago to the multi-billion industry that exists in Canada today. They will discover the on-going science, research and innovation behind canola.

Credit: Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation

Credit: Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation

 

 

 

 

 

Over the next five years, it will travel to museums, science centres, indoor and outdoor exhibitions, hospitals, shopping malls and airports. A map and links can be found on-line at CAFM.

The main gallery of the CAFM will also house a long-term, more in-depth, 2,500-square-foot exhibit.  It will connect to the museum’s demonstration kitchen, providing access for hands-on learning food experiences. The museum, which hosts 200,000 visitors/year, is a working farm, so as guests tour they will see canola growing and learn how canola meal is used in food rations for livestock and poultry.

The CAFM wants to ensure the canola story is accessible to all Canadians, so those unable to visit either exhibit will be able to access information and resources on the website.

Kerry-Leigh Burchill, director general of the CAFM states it was a fortuitous meeting with Simone Demers Collins, market development & promotions coordinator of Alberta Canola, at a Grow Canada Conference in Ottawa that led to this new exhibit to celebrate Canada’s 150th. Burchill said the museum was looking for a crop or a process that had “a very strong connection to innovation by Canadians in the fields of science and technology when it came to agriculture.”  To which Collins replied, “I think that story can be canola.”

Canadian canola grower associations and industry partners then stepped up to the plate to collaborate and sponsor the exhibit.

To ensure accuracy and a balanced representation for the exhibits, a National Advisory Council provided advice and input. The 13 member panel from a wide cross-section disciplines, included Dr. Keith Downey, one of the fathers of canola. Focus groups and surveys ensured terminology used was understandable to the general public.

The goal is to showcase agriculture as an ever-evolving industry, highlight the heritage of this made-in-Canada crop along with the benefits of growing canola from health, food security, environmental, economic and sustainability perspectives. Burchill hopes the exhibit will even inspire young students to chose a career path in agriculture.

Communication and education are key to the advancement of agriculture in Canada. This initiative will be a valuable reminder of just how far the canola industry has come in 50 years.

Courtesy Canola Council of Canada

Thoughts on "Canola: A Canadian Story of Innovation" 

Sandi Knight photo

“I think it’s an opportunity to be able to allow the urban population in particular, and farmers as well, to see where canola came from – the humble beginnings, where it’s going and the variety of products available from canola.” — Bruce Dalgarno, Farmer, Newdale, MB

 

Sandi Knight photo

“When visitors have the opportunity to learn from our farmers, hear their stories about growing ingredients for our recipes and food for our tables, a deeper farm to food connection is made. The display will give Canadians an opportunity to #ExploreCanola.” — Ellen Pruden, Education and Promotions Manager Manitoba Canola Growers/Canola Eat Well

Sandi Knight photo

“As the Canola Council of Canada celebrates 50 years in 2017 we couldn’t be more proud to tell the story of five decades of achievement and transformation in the Canadian canola industry and the exciting opportunities ahead. The exhibition is an excellent example of the innovative and collaborative spirit that’s driven canola’s success and we’re honoured to be able to launch the #ExploreCanola tour at our upcoming Convention.” — Patti Miller, President, Canola Council of Canada

Sandi Knight photo

“It is undeniable that the science, research and innovation behind canola changed how a lot of agriculture is done around the world”. — Kerry-Leigh Burchill Director General, Canada Agriculture and Food Museum

 

Do farmers add value to trade missions?

Originally published in the March 2017 issue of Canola Digest 


Sandi Knight photo

Canola is Canada’s top agricultural export to China, accounting for 40% of canola seed exports. Maintaining this market is essential for the canola industry and the 43,000 Canadian farmers who grow it.

Jack Froese, a farmer from Winkler, director and treasurer of the Manitoba Canola Growers Association and now Chair of the Canadian Canola Growers Association, visited China last November. He was part the Team Canada Trade Mission led by the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

Left to Right:  Jack Froese; Barry Senft – Grain Farmers of Ontario; Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; Jim Smolik – Canadian Grain Commission; Jim Everson – Soy Canada.

Froese attended meetings and seminars as well as a food show, which hosted over 72,000 trade buyers and 2,350 food companies from 66 countries and regions. The enormity of this show highlights the importance of the growing Chinese market and the competitiveness of countries rivaling for export business.

Producers attending trade missions are seen as a trusted, credible source of reliable, accurate information. When exporters have questions about agronomy and specific farm practices, such as crop rotation or pesticide use, farmers can address those queries. This helps build relationships and confidence in crop quality.

Froese states it is also an opportunity to find out what competitors are doing. You see the intricacies of the whole system in getting our crop from the bin to the plate. You find out how easily a market can disappear with changes in governments, their food policies, legislation, currency, transportation or stance on biotechnology. When we export 90% of our canola, awareness of the challenges in the global marketplace at the producer level is crucial in adapting and being prepared to comply with changes as they happen.

Whether it be trade missions, meetings at home or abroad, Froese has found his involvement in with the MCGA, CCCA and other farm organizations to be very rewarding: seeing firsthand the ripple effects of what happens beyond the farm gate, gaining a better understanding of trade, policy and transportation, being part of a team responsible for getting Canadian products to customers around the globe. It has broadened his awareness of safety net programs, sustainability, marketing, food integrity, storage, environmental and social sciences issues that impact his farm and those of farmers in Manitoba.

However, without his son running the day-to-day operations of their family farm, along with a nephew and three other employees, Froese knows he wouldn’t have the time or flexibility to contribute. He encourages producers to take on active roles – at whatever level their operation allows. He admits while does take time away from the farm, “If I didn’t have a passion for it, I wouldn’t be there.”

#BeBoldForChange ― Remembering Wangari Maathai

“The tree is living, it is beautiful, it inspires, it grow upwards, it gives shade, it brings back life, and so the tree becomes a symbol of hope.” ― Wangari Maathai Photograph: Sandi Knight

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #BeBoldForChange. A woman who embodied this, long before being bold was acceptable, was Wangari Maathai. She was a fearless visionary who faced problems head-on and implemented solutions with determination, grit and heart.

From the first time I heard of Wangari Maathai, her story resonated with me. Born in Nyeri, a rural area of Kenya, in 1940, this self-proclaimed “child of the soil” loved the feeling of contentment she experienced when working on the land alongside her mother. She had a deep connection with the environment, with trees and with people which led her to a host of achievements in her 71 years.

She was the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree, the first female head of a university department in Kenya and the first African woman and first environmentalist to become a Nobel laureate. Wangari Maathai was an elected member of Parliament in Kenya and assistant Minister of Environment. She authored four books. Her list of credits and accomplishments is lengthy but did not come without significant struggle. Over the years she was arrested, jailed and beaten, but she never gave up on her beliefs. Until her passing in 2011, she continued to strive for improvements in environmental conservation, democracy and human rights.

Members of the Green Belt Movement prepare seedlings.  Photograph: Wendy Stone/Reuters

The world became much more aware of Professor Maathai in 2004 when she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the Green Belt Movement, a grassroots, non-governmental organization which she founded in 1977. After hearing rural women of Kenya speak of their struggles to find firewood and water, of the loss of topsoil, of malnutrition diseases in their children, she understood that deforestation was connected to it all. Her response, “Why not plant trees?” And so, despite ridicule and many hurdles, her mission began.

The women were paid a small fee to plant and care for trees. Earning an income, while protecting and preserving their land and resources improved their lives, but also ensured a better future. Professor Maathai understood by empowering these women to break the cycle, change would reverberate in the world around them. She  understood the connection between the environment and social, economic and political issues, “…not only were we planting trees, but we were planting seeds of peace, seeds for democracy, seeds for respect for human rights.”

The Green Belt Movement’s mission is to “strive for better environmental management, community empowerment, and livelihood improvement using tree-planting as an entry point.” Through this program, more than 51 million trees have been planted throughout Kenya. The growth and impact of this movement since 1977 is astounding.

International Women’s Day is a time to honour and remember exceptional women like Wangari Maathai. Her inspiring story reminds us that being bold starts one step at a time. Stand up for what you believe in. Implement solutions. Empower yourself and those around you. Move forward together, build momentum and change will happen.

Wangari Maathai pictured in Kiriti, Kenya, in 2004. Photograph: Micheline Pelletier/Corbis

“Throughout my life, I have never stopped to strategize about my next steps. I often just keep walking along, through whichever door opens. I have been on a journey and this journey has never stopped. When the journey is acknowledged and sustained by those I work with, they are a source of inspiration, energy and encouragement. They are the reasons I kept walking, and will keep walking, as long as my knees hold out.” ― Wangari Maathai

So today let us celebrate achievements of those who came before us. Let us continue to support, encourage and empower one another, regardless of occupation, status or race. Rejoice in, and value everyday contributions.

Collectively, we can make a difference and continue to improve the world.  #BeBoldForChange

“We cannot tire or give up. We owe it to the present and future generations of all species to rise up and walk!” ―  Wangari Maathai 


Why not share Wangari Maathai’s story with the younger women in your life through this book?  “Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa