Don’t miss world-class animals & competitors at the Junior Steer Classic this Sunday!

Have you ever been to a cattle show? Have you ever wondered what it takes to train a steer? Have you ever wondered how exhibitors prepare their animals for competition? A winning steer takes hours of patience, determination, respect for the animals, and impeccable animal husbandry – Come see what it’s all about Saturday, July 16 and on show day, Sunday July 17, from 1-5 p.m. in the Agrium Western Event Centre.

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Everything you need to know about mini donkeys and horses

There’s something about miniature animals. Maybe it’s their compact size, or maybe it’s their explosive and playful personalities, but it’s virtually impossible not to burst into a smile when you see a grown person flying down the streets of Calgary in a small wagon with a miniature horse leading the way.

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Come see what the buzz is all about: Live honeybees on display at Stampede

While Stampede is always buzzing with activity, this year a new kind of buzz will be heard thanks to some small but feisty honeybees.

The Calgary and District Beekeepers Association will be bringing their engaging and interactive bee display to the Calgary Stampede for the first time.

Liz Goldie, one of approximately 40 volunteers from the association, said they’ve participated in the annual Calgary Stampede Aggie Days event held in April for about 10 years and thought it was time they also bring their exciting and educational display to Stampede.

“We are excited by the opportunity to educate people about bees and beekeeping,” says Goldie, noting that hobby beekeeping is becoming popular in Canada and it’s important that people understand the role of bees in the ecosystem.

Bee display at the recent Aggie Days event.

Bee display at this year’s Aggie Days event.

Goldie says Stampede goers will learn the difference between bees and wasps, as well as ways to help bees flourish.

The bee display will feature an observation hive that includes worker bees, drone bees and a queen bee. The display will also include products of the hive such as beeswax candles, mead and honey.

Photo courtesy Stephen Bennett.

Photo courtesy Stephen Bennett.

The beekeepers association will also educate Stampede goers on the importance of beekeeping to the province of Alberta. Goldie says beekeeping is connected to much of Alberta agriculture through pollination, and Alberta produces more honey than any other province in Canada.

Photo courtesy Cherie Andrews.

Photo courtesy Cherie Andrews.

The honeybees will join their other Country Critter friends in the Agriculture barn. You can find them between the pigeons and the chickens. In this area you’ll also find the mini donkeys, dairy cows, ducks, goats, alpaca and lama, along with Bluebell the dairy cow, the hay toss and grain play box. Be sure to stop by and say hi to all the critters.

There’s lots to see and do in Agrium Ag-tivity, which takes place in the Agrium Western Event Centre and the Agriculture barn. Open every day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

And don’t forget to take in the daily agriculture demos, taking place every half hour from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the outdoor stage in front of the Agriculture barn. It’s free fun for the entire family!

For more information on the Calgary and District Beekeepers Association visit www.calgarybeekeepers.com

International Year of Pulses: Cooking with Pulses

It’s time to talk pulses again. If you missed the first blog post where we talked about what pulses are, the International Year of Pulses and Alberta’s pulse industry, check it out here. 2016 has been declared International Year of Pulses (IYP) by the United Nations.

Today, let’s talk about the nutritional benefits of pulses. Did you know that pulses such as lentils, chickpeas, peas and beans are high in fibre, a good source of protein, low in fat and packed with essential nutrients? That’s right! Three-quarter cup (175 mL) counts as one Canada Food Guide serving as a meat alternative. Pulses are also gluten-free for those with Celiac disease or gluten-intolerance. They pack a nutritional punch and taste delicious.

Many people around the world have known the nutritional value of pulses for thousands of years and incorporated them into their diets. International Year of Pulses (IYP) is a good opportunity to remind people of the goodness of this inexpensive source of protein.

Pulses are easy to incorporate into your family’s diet with the increased availability of pulse flours, packaged pulse snacks and even made-in-Alberta No Nuts Pea Butter that tastes just like peanut butter, in addition to canned or dry beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas.

So why don’t more people eat pulses? It could be because they don’t know where to buy them and/or how to cook them. Pulses can be found in most grocery stores or ethnic specialty stores in both the canned and dry form. Pulses can be cooked on the stove top, in a slow cooker or pressure cooker, and for certain recipes, in the oven.

The Pulse Canada website has a great resource on how to cook your pulses. Check it out: Pulse Canada: How to Cook Pulses.

To help you get started, here are two easy recipes featuring different pulses. Give them a try. Enjoy!

Quinoa, Chickpea, Cucumber and Feta Salad

Quinoa chickpea salad.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa (beige, red or black)

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained, rinsed

  • 1 chopped, unpeeled cucumber

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 1 cup chopped parsley

  • 1 cup sliced baby spinach leaves

  • 1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese

  • 1/4 cup red wine or balsamic vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon honey

  • 1/3 cup olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons paprika

  • To taste salt and pepper

Directions:

Bring quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, simmer until tender, about 10-15 minutes. Tip: Do not overcook. Chill in the refrigerator to cool.

In a large bowl, combine chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, spinach and about half of the feta. Gently toss in the cooled quinoa; do not overmix or stir. Whisk vinegar, honey and paprika in small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle over the combined salad ingredients; toss gently. Top with extra feta if desired; serve immediately.

Source: W Network

 

Hoisin Turkey and Lentil Lettuce Wraps

Lentil lettuce wrap.

Ingredients:

  • Canola oil for cooking
  • 1 lb ground turkey (can substitute chicken breasts)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger
  • 1/4 cup cilantro stems chopped
  • 1/4 cup red lentils
  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2-3 green onions chopped
  • 1 head butter, romaine or leaf lettuce 
  • peanuts and fresh cilantro for garnish 

Directions:

Heat a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy skillet. Add the ground turkey and red pepper and cook, breaking up with a spoon until the meat is no longer pink. Add the garlic, ginger, cilantro and lentils and cook, stirring, for one minute. Add 1/3 cup water and simmer for 10 minutes until the lentils are tender, any excess moisture has evaporated and the meat has started to brown. Add hoisin sauce, soy sauce and green onions. Cook for another minute or two, stirring to coat well and heat through. Wash and prepare your lettuce, separating leaves. Serve turkey-lentil mixture in bowl with lettuce leaves for filling.

Source: Alberta Pulse Growers 

You can learn more about pulses during Stampede! The International Year of Pulses 2016 Travelling Exhibit will be on display in the Agrium Western Event Centre. Stop by and check it out!

International Year of Pulses: Pulses in Alberta

As you gear up for Stampede, some of us get kinda excited about agriculture. There’s a lot you can learn on Stampede Park about how your food gets to your plate. For example: Pulses.

This summer as you venture outside the city and drive through rural Alberta, you may notice some different plants in the fields. You’ll see the usual beautiful yellow canola fields and golden wheat fields, but you may also see some pulse crops growing in Alberta fields.

Over 5,000 Alberta farmers grow pulses. So what are pulses? Have you heard of peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas? These are all known as pulses, the edible seeds of legumes. Each of these types of pulse crops comes in a wide range of colours and sizes.

Fun Fact: The name pulse is derived from the Latin puls meaning thick soup or potage.

Bags of pulse crops such as lentils and chickpeas. Photo courtesy Alberta Pulse Growers.

Bags of pulse crops such as lentils and chickpeas. Photo courtesy Alberta Pulse Growers.

And this year, pulses just happen to be in the international limelight. The United Nations has declared 2016 International Year of Pulses (IYP).

“IYP draws attention to important global issues like nutrition, food security and environmental sustainability,” said Sylvan Lake area farmer Allison Ammeter, chair of the Alberta Pulse Growers and the IYP Canada Committee. “It will leverage the international focus on pulses to build more demand for the pulses produced by Canadian growers, including those in Alberta. It also emphasizes the important role that beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas play in contributing to healthy people and a healthy planet.”

The Alberta Pulse Growers (APG), the industry association representing provincial pulse growers, has joined the festivities and is celebrating IYP in various ways.

In addition to joining with its counterparts across the country to promote IYP through national initiatives like the Pulse Feast in Toronto featuring IYP ambassador Chef Michael Smith, APG has ramped up its own consumer engagement efforts. These activities include the creation of a special IYP 2016 calendar, increased printed recipe resources and an amplified presence at food-related events.

IYP provides an ideal opportunity for the APG to further engage with chefs, who can then share the many benefits of eating pulses with a wider consumer audience, said Ammeter.

A major component of APG’s chef outreach during IYP is through a partnership with the Alberta Culinary Tourism Alliance (ACTA) to offer numerous dining events featuring beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas. APG provided sponsorship to ACTA that included challenging chefs at various ACTA culinary events taking place throughout 2016 to use pulses in innovative ways, said Ammeter.

A special event that APG and ACTA are collaborating on is the Alberta Chef Pulse Development Day taking place now in June. Ten accomplished Alberta chefs from Calgary and Edmonton will participate in a tour that includes a crop walk to see pulses growing in the field, said Ammeter, and a tour of Alberta Agriculture’s Food Processing Development Centre in Leduc. The chefs also accepted the challenge to develop a pulse-based product that could possibly be scaled up at the centre for retail sale in the future.

As we celebrate International Year of Pulses this year, don’t forget that our province is home to many pulse crops.

Here are a few Alberta pulse facts: 

  • There are over 5,000 pulse growers in Alberta.
  • Field peas are the most widely grown pulse crop in Alberta.
  • Chickpea and lentil production occurs predominantly in southern Alberta where the growing season is the longest.

Source: Alberta Pulse Growers

Peas growing in an Alberta field. Photo courtesy Alberta Pulse Growers.

Peas growing in an Alberta field. Photo courtesy Alberta Pulse Growers.

Would you like to learn more about pulses? You can during Stampede! The International Year of Pulses 2016 Travelling Exhibit will be on display in the Agrium Western Event Centre. Stop by and check it out!

And don’t forget to visit the Alberta Pulse Growers and Pulse Canada websites.

25 Years of Preserving Agricultural Heritage

For 25 years the Calgary Stampede Farm Equipment committee has been preserving our agricultural heritage for young and old by bringing vintage tractors and equipment back to life and showcasing them to the public during Stampede.

The 25th annual Vintage Tractor Pull, presented by Cervus Equipment, takes place on Sunday, July 5 at 7 p.m. and Monday, July 6 at 5:30 p.m. The event is organized by the Calgary Stampede Farm Equipment committee.

Don Ellingson quote

The 25th anniversary of the Vintage Tractor Pull will feature 25 competitors from across Alberta with each one hoping to claim first in their class. There are six different weight classes – featherweight followed by Class #1 through #5, beginning at 1,000 lbs up to 9,999 lbs. The winner of each class is determined based on the highest aggregate pull over the two days.

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Barn Brings Family Together

The barn brings the McLeod family of Cochrane, Alberta together. “It’s the place where we come together and work together,” says Rod McLeod.

And that work has paid off. McLeod’s daughter Megan walked away a Grand Champion with her Charolais steer Cruise at the UFA Steer Classic during the recent Calgary Stampede. And five years ago, her brother Colby was also a winner with his Charolais steer.

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It was a dream for Megan, 18, to be at the Calgary Stampede competing with her 1,320-pound steer Cruise. Megan bought Cruise from a Bowden, Alberta Charolais breeder and says she likes to support local breeders. The country duo Florida-Georgia Line’s hit song, Cruise, was the inspiration behind her steer’s name.

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Megan participated in the Summer Synergy youth livestock program leading up to Stampede. Summer Synergy provides a collaborative venue to showcase youth in agriculture by combining traditional elements with innovative approaches for personal achievement and development. In the program, participants are judged on various elements including showmanship, conformation, marketing, show team judging and multi species judging. Each participant is scored and the top achievers receive scholarships.

“Synergy is an amazing competition,” says Megan. “You meet amazing people and learn valuable leadership skills.” And being at the Stampede exposes rural youth to an urban population and teaches them how to talk about livestock with the urban public, she adds. All these skills will benefit you later down the road, she says.

Megan is a member of the Jumping Pound 4-H Club, president of the Alberta Charolais Youth Association and a director on the Canadian Charolais Youth Association. She will be headed east in the fall to study at the University of Saskatchewan.

To learn more about Summer Synergy visit http://summersynergy.ca.

Vintage Tractor Pull Returns to the Calgary Stampede

After a forced hiatus last year due to the flood, the Vintage Tractor Pull and Tractor Show & Shine returns to the Calgary Stampede.

The 24th annual Vintage Tractor Pull, presented by Cervus Equipment, takes place on Sunday, July 6 at 7 p.m. and Monday, July 7 at 5:30 p.m. The event is organized by the Calgary Stampede Farm Equipment committee, which strives to preserve our agricultural heritage for young and old, bringing back to life vintage tractors and equipment.

“Agriculture has evolved from the horse to the vintage tractor to today’s modern equipment built on the latest technology,” says committee chair Don Ellingson. “The Farm Equipment committee provides an opportunity for folks to connect these eras and better understand our agricultural heritage.”

ShownShine02

This year the Vintage Tractor Pull will be moving to new digs – the Scotiabank Saddledome. Don’t miss the rumble of the engines and the cheers of the crowd in this dynamic atmosphere.

“The Farm Equipment committee is excited about this opportunity as it will really allow us to better showcase the vintage tractors in a venue that will provide a more informative and exciting viewer experience,” says Ellingson.

Approximately 24 competitors from across Alberta will descend on Stampede Park with their vintage tractors in hopes of claiming first in their class in the Vintage Tractor Pull. There are six different weight classes – featherweight followed by Class #1 through #5, beginning at 1,000 lbs up to 9,999 lbs. The winner of each class is determined as the longest average on two pulls.

2013 Pull

Between classes during the Vintage Tractor Pull, sit back and take in the Metal versus Muscle show where vintage tractors will square off against a team of powerful Percheron heavy horses – this is horsepower at its finest.

The Tractor Show & Shine is also back this year. Come get an up close and personal look at the immaculately restored vintage tractors from 1960 and older. The Show and Shine takes place on Sunday, July 6 at 5 p.m. on Country Trail between the Agriculture Building and the new Agrium Western Event Centre. This is your chance to talk to the tractor owners who invest significant time and money into restoring these beauties and are truly passionate about their work.

If you miss the Show & Shine, take a walk down Country Trail during the rest of Stampede as two vintage tractors will be on display for all 10 days. You can even climb aboard and have your photo taken with a vintage tractor at a designated time each day.

ShownShine01

And if you’re going to be taking in the Calgary Stampede parade on Friday, July 4, watch for the vintage farm equipment. This year’s parade entry features haying equipment. Three vintage tractors will rumble down the streets of Calgary hooked up to working haying equipment, which includes a 1953 John Deere model 60 with a sickle mower owned by Brian Steiner of Calgary, a 1956 John Deere model 320 pulling a hay rake owned by Wayne Risdon of Strathmore and a Massey Harris model 201 pulling a square baler owned by Don Ellingson of Calgary.

2013 Parade

Don’t miss the Vintage Tractor Pull and Tractor Show & Shine at the 2014 Calgary Stampede. For reminders, follow @stampedeag on Twitter, @stampede_ag on Instagram and like Calgary Stampede Agriculture on Facebook. 

Bringing the Farm to the City: Don’t miss Aggie Days

Aggie Days is back for another exciting year! The free, family event takes place this weekend, April 12 and 13, at BMO Centre in Stampede Park. Presented by the Calgary Stampede Agriculture Education committee and sponsored by Encana, Aggie Days is a great opportunity to learn about the wonderful world of agriculture. From farm machinery to farm animals – Aggie Days has it all. Come on down and take in all the interactive displays. And of course there will be several new exhibitors and new displays this year.

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The Reynolds-Alberta Museum will have a 1912 antique tractor on display for you to sit on and snap a photo with. Their exhibit will also feature other educational demonstrations of machines such as a grain grinder and butter churn.

From antique tractors to antique fire trucks. The Fire Fighters Museum of Calgary is bringing its antique horse drawn fire truck to Aggie Days.

And of course there will be plenty of cute animals. You can find different breeds of sheep at Aggie Days including hair sheep, which have a mixture of hair and wool that sheds naturally in the spring, therefore they do not require shearing.

Besides having dairy goats and their adorable kids on display, there will also be Boer meat goats at this year’s Aggie Days. The Boer goat is a breed raised for meat production.

Let’s not forget about the horses. Check out the new life-sized horse that you can rope from, as well as hoof health demonstrations, horsetails to braid and much more. And the blacksmiths are back to teach you how to trim horse hooves and explain why this is done.

Ever wanted to climb onto the seat of a chuckwagon? The Calgary Stampede Chuckwagon committee is bringing a chuckwagon to Aggie Days and giving you the opportunity to climb aboard.

This year there will also be a brand new Incredi-Pull, brought to us by the Calgary Stampede Draft Horse Town committee. Test your “horsepower” as you harness up and prepare to see if you can pull more weight than everyone else.

And don’t miss meeting Lady, the star of the 2014 Calgary Stampede poster. Lady will be walking the red carpet and giving out hoof print autographs.

2014 CS poster

New to Aggie Days this year is the Calgary Horticultural Society. At this display you can find a wagon filled with veggies and herbs that you can grow at home no matter how small your space is.

Slow Food Calgary will also be joining Aggie Days this year and will feature interactive seed starting activities at their exhibit.

The Calgary Corn Maze and Fun Farm is back and they’ve kicked it up a notch this year. The maze will feature new scarecrow décor and quizzes to test your knowledge about Alberta crops such as corn.

Finally, the Alberta Canola Producers Commission will be launching a new children’s book called Cut! To the Chase. The book promotes healthy foods including oils low in saturated fat such as canola oil. And Jump with Jill, the World’s Only Rock ‘N Roll Nutrition Show, will be at Aggie Days to teach you about healthy eating.

Cut! To The Chase

For more information on all that Aggie Days has to offer visit http://ag.calgarystampede.com/events/aggie-days/

Don’t forget to Like Aggie Days on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CSAggieDays, Follow Aggie Days on Twitter @CSAggieDays and Follow Aggie Days on Pinterest at http://www.pinterest.com/csaggiedays/

From Tractors to Combines: The Equipment Used on the Farm

Growing up on the  family farm in southern Manitoba, my brothers and I spent many hours playing with farm toys. While we were inside playing with our toy farm equipment, our parents were outside working with the real farm equipment.

Each piece of farm equipment performs a certain function. Red, green, yellow, blue – it doesn’t matter what colour it is.

While driving outside the city limits, have you ever noticed a piece of farm machinery working in a field and wondered what that was and what it was doing? Well, no more wondering. Read on to learn about a few key pieces of farm machinery.

Let’s begin with a tractor. Most of you have probably seen smaller tractors working in the city. Most farmers have a few different sized tractors that serve different purposes. For example, on my family farm we have a smaller tractor that is used to feed hay bales to the cattle. We also have medium-sized tractors which pull equipment such as a baler, which compresses a cut and raked crop such as hay and straw, and forms it into a bale. And we have large tractors which are used to pull various pieces of farm equipment such as a cultivator, which tills the soil.

A tractor pulling a cultivator.

A tractor pulling a cultivator in a field.

A tractor also pulls an air seeder, which is an important piece of equipment on the farm. An air seeder is used to plant the seeds that will grow into crops.

A tractor pulling an air seeder in a field.

A tractor pulling an air seeder in a field.

After the seeds are planted and start to grow into crops, the crops are sprayed to protect them from insects, diseases and weeds. A sprayer is used for this. A sprayer can either be pulled behind a tractor or is self-propelled.

A sprayer in a field.

A sprayer in a field.

The crops continue to grow until they can be harvested. A swather is sometimes used at harvest time to cut the standing crop into swaths or rows. It’s only used for some crops such as canola.

A swather in a field.

A swather in a canola field.

Finally, a combine is used to harvest the crop. The combine picks up the crop, which is either in swaths or still standing, and then separates the seeds from the waste, which includes straw, stems and leaves.

A combine in a wheat field.

A combine in a wheat field.

These are just a few key pieces of equipment you’ll find on a Canadian farm. Of course, there are others that I haven’t mentioned. I hope this helps you better understand the basic purpose of these pieces of farm machinery.

Want to see some of this impressive farm equipment in person? Stop by Aggie Days, a free, family event taking place April 12 and 13 at the BMO Centre in Stampede Park. There you’ll find a big tractor, baler, sprayer and combine. And the kids can play with the smaller, toy versions in the Aggie Days sandbox. Don’t miss it! 

I’M NOT JUST A FARMER

Several years ago I found myself browsing through coffee table books at a local bookstore looking for a book featuring Canadian Prairie photographs as a gift for some American friends. I came across a book titled, “It’s Just Prairie.” Flipping through the book I discovered beautiful photographs of my favourite place in the world – the Canadian Prairies. But something bothered me – the title. I thought, “It’s not JUST Prairie; It’s Prairie!”

I thought back to this book recently when a few people told me about this article titled, “I’m JUST a farmer.” I couldn’t agree more with the writer. A farmer is not just a farmer. Today’s modern farmer is a businessman (or woman), mechanic, marketer, accountant, agronomist, veterinarian, truck driver, human resources manager and so much more. And besides all this, farmers have one of the greatest responsibilities – to help feed a growing world.

The nature of a farmer’s work requires diversity and versatility. Farmers have a whole wealth of skills under their belt but they’re typically not ones to brag about these skills. They’d rather fly under the radar – simply going about their day-to-day lives getting the work done.

Unfortunately, farmers are known for thinking of themselves as just farmers. But rather, a farmer should be proud to be a farmer and say it with pride.

If you’re a farmer, the next time you’re at a party and someone asks you what you do, I encourage you to say with pride, “I’m a farmer,” and talk about the skills needed to run a successful farm.

And if you’re at a party and you hear someone say, “I’m just a farmer,” I encourage you to pipe up and remind them of the variety of skills they possess and need to be a successful farmer.

FROM BIO-COMPOSITES TO BLUSH: HOW AGRICULTURE MEETS OUR DAILY NEEDS IN NON-FOOD WAYS

Aggie Days is almost here! Here is a guest post by Cami Ryan. Cami is a researcher with the College of Agriculture and Bioresources at the University of Saskatchewan and a member of the Calgary Stampede’s Ag Media Committee. Her family farmed and she grew up as a “townie” in rural Saskatchewan. Farming and agriculture have always been an important part of her life – both professionally and personally. Cami lives with her family and a collection of critters on an acreage just south of Calgary. Check out her blog: http://doccamiryan.wordpress.com/ 

Don’t miss Aggie Days this weekend at the BMO Centre, Stampede Park. Admission is FREE for everyone! And make sure you become a fan and follower of the Aggie Days Facebook and Twitter accounts for all the latest news!

“Food” is often the first thing that comes to mind when we think about farming and agriculture; things like fruits or vegetables or commodity crops such as wheat, barley and canola. Food is an essential part of our every day lives and we are fortunate to live in a part of the world where we can enjoy a variety of foodstuffs sourced from our friendly farmer.

But did you know that farming and agriculture is more than just “food?” Whether you live in the city or the country, products of agriculture are all around you. And you just might be surprised the shape and form those products take!

Take, for example, biocomposites. A biocomposite is a material formed through the combination of a polymer with natural plant fibers such as hemp or flax. Biocomposite materials can be easily molded into things such as car dashboards or car door panels. (See the biocomposite specs on the “Kestrel” car developed in Alberta by Motive Industries). Biocomposites are also used not only in the manufacture of weed control materials or textiles but also in the development of green building products such as biofibre insulation and cement and fibreboard panels (see the Alberta-based company, TTS, for information on their biocomposite products and innovations).

Car panel door, photo sourced from: Wikipedia

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have agricultural goods used in the manufacturing of hair and skin care products as well as cosmetics. Emolient oils (EOs) are extracted from the seeds of crops such as flax, palm, soybean, sunflower, hemp or canola. EOs can penetrate the skin and bind to the membrane of the skin making them useful additives to a variety of beauty products such as skin moisturizers, anti-dandruff shampoos and even permanent waving agents. Cornstarch, derived from corn, is often used in eyeshadows and blushes.

Peas have been known to be used in facial masks. Oats and oat products serve as effective moisturizing and skin protection agents. And let’s not forget “Royal Jelly.” Royal Jelly is secreted from the glands of worker bees to feed larvae and queen bee within a bee colony. Not only does Royal Jelly have anti-biotic and anti-inflammatory properties (and pharmaceutical application), it is also widely used in cosmetic and beauty products. Lanolin is a yellow waxy substance secreted by the sebaceous glands of sheep. It is used in a variety of products from cream make-up to lipgloss to hand and skin moisturizers. Even bull semen is used as an additive in hair care products!

These are just a few of many examples of how agriculture is all around us. Agriculture is more than just food… it is an essential part of our everyday lives. No matter where we live!

Different Types of Ag Operations in Alberta

Golden fields of wheat blowing in the breeze and cows lazily grazing in the lush green pasture are the first things that come to most people’s minds when they think of Alberta agriculture, but there’s more to the provincial ag industry than grain and cattle. The Wild Rose province is home to many different types of agricultural operations such as beekeeping, sugar beets, pulses, market gardens, elk, bison, pork, chicken, lamb, turkey, dairy, eggs and much more.

Did you know that Alberta is the largest honey-producing province in Canada? That’s right. Alberta produces approximately 40 per cent of Canadian honey. There are about 275,000 beehives throughout the province producing an average of 141 pounds per hive annually. Long daylight hours in the summer; access to vast expanses of clover, alfalfa and canola that provide foraging for bees; and a world wide reputation as suppliers of quality honey are all advantages for Alberta honey producers.

And if that doesn’t make Alberta sweet enough, the province also produces refined sugar. There are approximately 250 sugar beet growers in southern Alberta who provide the only domestic source of sugar in Canada. These producers grow approximately 35,000 acres of the speciality crop. A long growing season; few diseases; excellent soil; warm and sunny summers; cool and sunny autumns; and high quality irrigation water combine to make southern Alberta a perfect location for high yields of quality sugar beets. Every day consumers enjoy sugar products grown in southern Alberta.

Consumers also enjoy healthy dishes such as baked beans, split pea soup, hummus and chili courtesy of Alberta pulse producers. These delicious foods that are high in fibre, gluten free and a source of protein, are made with pulses, which are the edible seeds of legumes. There are about 5,000 pulse producers in Alberta. In 2011, pulse primary production contributed approximately $240 million to the provincial economy. In Alberta, a variety of pulse crops are grown including field peas, dry beans, lentils, chickpeas and faba beans. Pulses are an important part of a producer’s crop rotation as they help break disease cycles, reduce inputs because of their nitrogen fixing abilities; and increase yields on other crops in the year following a pulse crop. In addition to being good for the land and growers’ bottom lines, pulses are also an important part of the growing food product development industry in Alberta.

Speaking of beans and peas, market gardening is also popular in Alberta. Market gardening is producing fresh vegetables and marketing these crops directly to the consumer. Fresh vegetable market gardening is distinct from commercial production in which the vegetables are marketed through packers, wholesalers, retailers and restaurants in order to reach the consumer. Market gardeners are small-scale producers. They develop their own markets and sell all of their produce directly to consumers during the growing season. Market gardens are often operated as complementary enterprises with bedding plants or u-pick berry production. Many producers are also incorporating ag tourism and events to drive retail sales. Vegetables such as beets, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, corn, cucumbers, lettuce, potatoes, pumpkins and much more are grown here in Alberta.

For more information on these ag industries check out the following websites:

Alberta Beekeepers: www.albertabeekeepers.org

Alberta Sugar Beet Growers: www.asbg.ca

Alberta Pulse Growers: www.pulse.ab.ca

Alberta Farm Fresh Producers Association: www.albertafarmfresh.com

Don’t miss Aggie Days this weekend at the BMO Centre, Stampede Park. Admission is FREE for everyone! And make sure you become a fan and follower of the Aggie Days Facebook and Twitter accounts for all the latest news! 

Building a Farming Career

Don’t miss Aggie Days this weekend at the BMO Centre, Stampede Park. Admission is FREE for everyone! And make sure you become a fan and follower of the Aggie Days Facebook and Twitter accounts for all the latest news!

Here is an Aggie Days guest video blog by farmer Gary Chambers on choosing farming as a career. Gary owns and operates a 100+ year old 2,300-acre family grain farm northeast of Drumheller, AB. He is also co-owner of Century 21 PowerRealty.ca with offices in Drumheller, Airdrie, Calgary and Strathmore. Gary is past president of the Realtors Association of South Central Alberta and currently is serving as a director for the Canadian Real Estate Association MLS Technology Council which operates the MLS and REALTOR.ca in Canada. Gary’s passions outside of his busy work schedule include all endurance sports but primary cycling and his blog www.TractorView.com that helps educate farmers and real estate professionals on social media, technology, and whatever else is on his mind.