The biggest advancement in the agriculture/agri-food industry? Industry leaders share their thoughts

This year marks Canada’s 150 birthday! To celebrate this occasion the International Agriculture and Agri-food Committee of the Calgary Stampede (IAC) has created the IAC Canada 150 Reflections Project. We have asked industry leaders who offer a wealth of experience and insights across a broad range of industries to share their thoughts and perspectives on what has been the biggest advancement in the agriculture/agri-food industry.

From the Alberta Wheat Commission to local producers, here are some of those reflections.

Young Farmers/Agvocates

Andrew Campbell, Dairy and Grain Farmer, @freshairfarmer

If there was one word to describe the biggest advancements in agriculture it would be precision. Precision to have a planter, tractor and satellite drop a seed in the perfect spot. Precision to identify feed nutrients to get just the right diet for livestock. Precision to be able to monitor air quality in a barn, or crop quality in a field, right from a smartphone. Precision is and will continue to be the biggest advancement to agriculture as we grow more food with less resources.

Andrew_Campbell

Andrew Campbell, Dairy and Grain Farmer

Danielle Lee, Farmer, Chair Canadian Young Farmers’ Forum, @deleeag

For myself, I’d have to say one of the biggest factors allowing agriculture to advance has been our access to information and how we communicate. With smartphones, there is a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips. With texting, tweeting and video chatting we can easily communicate with others down the road or across the country. One of the biggest positives is how we in the agriculture industry can communicate with consumers to answer questions about farming and show what we do on our farms.

Danielle-Lee

Danielle Lee, Farmer, Chair Canadian Young Farmers’ Forum

Lesley Kelly, High Heels and Canola Fields and Grain Farmer @lesleyraekelly

As a mom and fourth generation farmer, the biggest advancement in agriculture is connecting with consumers. Farmers are seen as one of the most trusted sources and I’m grateful to be able to share my story to lots of people within my community and online. Consumers are curious about where their food comes from and I’m proud to say it’s from families like mine.

leslie-kelly

Lesley Kelly, High Heels and Canola Fields and Grain Farmer

Jennifer Christie, Event Chair, Global 4-H Network Summit, @SavvyFarmGirl

In my short career, I have seen the Internet and “big data” lead to the greatest advancements in the agriculture industry. The ability to analyze massive amounts of information in seconds and transmit real-time management information has mainstreamed robotic technology on dairy farms and allowed for more precise nutrient applications in field. This has resulted in healthier animals, less environmental impact and higher quality products being sold to consumers.

Jennifer-christie

Jennifer Christie, Event Chair, Global 4-H Network Summit

Jay Schultz, Grain Farmer, Regional Representative Alberta Wheat Commission, @WheatlanderJay

In my opinion one the greatest advancements in the agriculture/agri-food industry has been the smartphone. This little everyday device has given a farmer the world’s information at their fingertips while in the field. Agriculture is about putting science and theory into motion; the smart phone takes this to the next level. It’s a platform in which so many other tasks are made simple whether it’s communication like e-mails or Twitter to local weather apps or cloud-based farm management software to operating drones.

jay-schultz

Jay Schultz, Grain Farmer, Regional Representative Alberta Wheat Commission

 

 

 

 

 

Sowing Community Spirit: Benevity, Seedlings and the Stampede!

April showers bring May flowers, right? Then April snow should make seedlings grow! That was the motto on Monday, April 24 when a group of 30 smiling and cheerful neighbours from Benevity came to Stampede Park to grow some great community spirit, despite the cold weather. Bringing 160 Colorado blue spruce seedlings, these benevolent friends from Benevity came to donate some time and trees to the Stampede!

Say “Trees”: Parks & Facility Services share a smile with the Benevity crew and some of the new seedlings

Say “Trees”: Parks & Facility Services share a smile with the Benevity crew and some of the new seedlings

Led by the Stampede’s green-thumbed Parks & Facility Services team, the group divided into planting crews and with tremendous care and affection, planted the seedlings in their new homes. The seedlings were welcomed onto Park and made to feel right at home in the planters located by the Park & Facility Services building.

In their new nursery, the seedlings will be tended to with love and attention by Sandy Mcafee, park maintenance supervisor, and her team for the next two to three years. These initial years are very significant in the life of a new tree and it is important to keep our new seedlings in a safe and happy place before sending them off into the big, open world.

planting 1

Sandy Mcafee from Parks & Facility and April from Benevity make a new home for a seedling

Once the seedlings have grown strong enough, the new trees will be transplanted to other locations across Park. In doing so the trees will also be used in landscaping projects as the Stampede expands buildings and greenspaces.

Four part-time horticulturalists from Benevity share a smile with a baby Colorado blue spruce

Four part-time horticulturalists from Benevity share a smile with a baby Colorado blue spruce

A tremendous thank you to the kind folks from Benevity who share our desire to further environmental initiatives and preservation in our city and beyond!

For more information about what the Calgary Stampede is doing to ensure a positive environmental impact, please visit our website http://corporate.calgarystampede.com/about/environment.html.

In celebration of Canadian ranchers on Earth Day

By: Rosie Templeton

There’s an important segment of the Calgary Stampede’s UFA Cattle Trail and the journey of Canadian beef production that comes before the auction market, the feedlot and the grocery store. It’s the Canadian ranch. More specifically, how the Canadian ranchers work to ensure a balanced ecosystem on their operations, considering water use, grasslands, wildlife and how to leave their ranch in good shape to pass on to the next generation.

In honour of the Canadian ranchers inadvertently celebrating Earth Day today and every day, I wanted to spotlight some of the incredible sustainability initiatives and lesser known facts about how our beef is raised.

UFA-Cattle trail 2

What is sustainable beef?

The Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef defines it as: a socially responsible, environmentally sound and economically viable product that prioritizes planet, people, animals and progress.

Sustainability holds an important meaning to ranchers. For many, it includes everything from passing their operation on to the next generation, to animal care, to the economic viability of their ranch.

How are Canadian ranchers Earth-friendly?

Cattle production and natural resource stewardship go hand in hand,” explains Fawn Jackson, manager, environmental affairs at the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association. “Cattle ranching isn’t about using resources up; it’s about stewarding them so that they are able to last forever.”

For ranchers, this means employing practices like rotational grazing, or moving cattle from one field to the next to preserve the health of the grass and ensure it can be grazed for many years to come. Good grass management also leads to water filtration, carbon sequestration and wildlife habitat.

UFA Cattle trail 1

What do cattle have to do with wildlife?

“When you choose to eat beef, you are supporting grassland wildlife!” says Jackson. “Within the agriculture landscape, the beef industry accounts for 68 per cent of wildlife habitat, while using only 33 per cent of total agriculture land.”

By preserving grassland, water sources and habitat for wildlife like ducks and moose, ranchers are caregivers to far more than just cattle.

How can I learn more about sustainable beef?

Come take a walk through the Cattle Trail! Every day during the Calgary Stampede, you can take the journey from pasture to plate in the UFA Cattle Trail, located in the Agrium Western Event Centre.

This year’s Cattle Trail will be separated into five sections which are the five pillars of sustainable beef developed by the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB): Natural resources, people and the community, animal health and welfare, food, efficiency and innovation.

GRSB Principles

You can also visit crsb.ca and GRSBeef.org for more great information on sustainability from pasture to plate.

Happy Earth Day, I think I’ll celebrate with a steak!

Stampede employees train for emergency flood preparedness

On June 21, 2013, southern Alberta was forever changed as the largest flood to date washed through, destroying much that stood in its path. The Calgary Stampede’s blue bridge was washed away, the Infield tunnel and Indian Village were submerged, and buildings across Stampede Park were flooded. Though the results were devastating, the Stampede witnessed that the spirit of the city couldn’t be washed away.

Immediately following the flood, the Stampede took numerous measures to protect and build resiliency for Stampede Park. From 2013 to 2014, the Stampede gathered all information possible on the flood, implemented new flood-resilient design features on Stampede Park, updated their Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and created a step-by-step outline document of how to handle flood situations. From the time the SOP was updated three years ago, Stampede employees have participated in live flood exercises annually.

“After exercises like this, we really feel more prepared,” said Calgary Stampede assets manager, park & facility services, Brian Hanley, referring to the emergency preparedness day Stampede employees took part in on Wednesday, April 19, 2017.

Almost 50 Park & Facility services employees, including carpenters, plumbers, electricians, general labourers, administrative employees and team leads, participated in a practice live scenario for flood recovery on Stampede Park. “It took a lot of time, personnel and collaboration to bring the day together,” continued Hanley, “but the time spent preparing for the day, participating in the activities and regrouping afterwards was highly valuable.”

Flood Carts

Six prepared flood carts

Simultaneously, key members of the Stampede gathered for a tabletop exercise[1] of the same 1-100 level flood scenario. “This isn’t a one department or small group response.  An event of this scope and scale –which has the potential to cause significant negative impact to our operation-, requires an ‘all hand’s on-deck’ approach,” described Paul Burrows, security services manager, who oversees the Stampede’s Corporate Response & Resiliency Program (CRRP).

Stampede leaders from all departments across Stampede Park, from communications, people services, business services, sales & event management, security, parking, food & beverage, and more, discussed a play-by-play of what each department’s role would be during the 1-100 level flood scenario. These key crisis management employees discussed what to do as flood severity escalates. “Each business unit has a role. Whether it’s providing support for the initial response or assisting with the recovery and business continuity phase, everyone plays an important part,” added Burrows.

Burrows leading the tabletop exercise

Burrows leading the tabletop exercise

The same was true for the live exercise. “There are so many parts to practice, so every year we practise different tasks with different employees,” Hanley explained. “Our overarching goal is for everyone, no matter their job description, to be able to jump in and know exactly how to handle the situation.” This year, the Park & Facility Services employees practiced six of the approximately 25 measures outlined in the flood emergency preparedness procedure document.

One of the six tasks for 2017 was lowering the railings of the Stampede’s newest bridge, which replaced a bridge that was washed away in the 2013 flood. “This task was especially intriguing for our employees as this year was the first time we practised lowering the rails.” The new bridge was built specially with numerous flood resiliency features in mind. Lowering the rails will allow for water to flow smoothly over the bridge instead of being blocked and creating a dam situation. The employees also practiced removing the benches and planters along the bridge because in flood situations these items could cause damage or create blockages if the river carried them away.

Railings successfully lowered on the Stampede’s newest bridge

Railings successfully lowered on the Stampede’s newest bridge

Also in ENMAX Park and new for this year, the live exercise employees practised removing the panels from Sweetgrass Lodge. “They look like walls but are actually 4’x7’ panels,” described Hanley. Removing the panelled-walls of the stage area will allow for water to pass through smoothly and not create a blockage or dam.

The remaining of the exercises varied from staging flood carts, which are supplies transported to essential areas across Stampede Park, practising sandbagging doors to keep water out, activating sluice gates to keep water from coming up manholes, and fighting water with water. “We fill these large tubes with water and when they’re expanded they’re about three feet high and very durable. They can stop water in its path” said Hanley.

A washroom door sandbagged in ENMAX Park

A washroom door sandbagged in ENMAX Park

 

Stampede employees activating an E09 Sluice Gate

Stampede employees activating an E09 Sluice Gate

“After the live exercises are finished, we sit down and go over the day – and that’s when we really realize the small things that make the big differences,” Hanley continued. The same conclusion was found from Burrow’s tabletop exercise. “Even something as seemingly small as ‘gathering phone chargers’ is on our emergency preparedness list,” said Burrows. “And though people may chuckle at first, communication is essential in times of emergency so this small task is actually extremely essential.”

Feeling confident from the flood emergency preparedness day, Stampede employees are ready to take on the weather this year.

 

 

[1] Tabletop exercises have always been an annual tradition for the Stampede and cover a wide range of emergency situation topics. The flood tabletop is just one the larger series of emergency topics the CRRP covers.

 

A Wet and Great Stampede!

Yes, it was the wettest ten days I can remember in my 30+ years of volunteering (and in fact I now hear it was the rainiest 10 days since 1927), but definitely a lot of bright spots and great memories from the 2016 Stampede:

1. Pre-Stampede, on Wednesday, July 6 and Thursday, July 7, I was very busy with large and in some cases record crowds at the CBC Breakfast, the Alberta Children’s Hospital Parade, Tourism Calgary First Flip, the Field Law and Miles Davison LLP parties and Parade committee kick off BBQ. No question from those events that the city was very much looking forward to celebrating Stampede this year.

David Gray, host of the Eyeopener on CBC Radio (L) interviewing Codey McCurrach, chuckwagon driver (R) at the CBC Breakfast

David Gray, host of the Eyeopener on CBC Radio (L) interviewing Codey McCurrach, chuckwagon driver, (R) at the CBC Breakfast

Pancakes being flipped at the First Flip breakfast hosted by Tourism Calgary

Pancakes being flipped at the First Flip breakfast hosted by Tourism Calgary

2. Parade Day is always special and I never take for granted the thrill of being on horseback riding along the downtown parade route in front of hundreds of thousands of cheering spectators. Parade Marshals PB&J (Paul Brandt and Jann Arden) were great ambassadors for Calgary and the walking entry of about 100 representatives from the various Fort McMurray agencies involved with the emergency first response, re-location and re-settlement of that city received a huge and well deserved show of appreciation.

parade 2016)

Waving hello atop of Pa – the horse I rode this year from the Stampede Ranch

3. The Stampede Rodeo was great all week (even during the downpour on Finals Sunday, which I would argue just made it that much more challenging and exciting). Barrel Racer Mary Burger became an instant Stampede hit during the first go around and then continued to win over hearts and fans by pulling in the big prize on Sunday. Getting to award announcer Ron MacLean his own bronze for his 25 years of involvement with the Stampede Rodeo was also a very special moment for me.

Ron and Bill

Ron with his bronze and me

4. More often than not, the GMC Rangeland Derby and Evening Show faced the wettest moments of each day. The track held up magnificently and kudos to all the drivers for night after night of exciting and safe racing. The TransAlta Grandstand Show was one of the best I can recall and was designed in such a manner that “the show could go on” each night notwithstanding the weather. Great job by Dave Pierce, the Grandstand committee and all others involved in producing and putting on this show.

Exciting finish to one of the chuckwagon races

Exciting finish to one of the chuckwagon races

The Young Canadians of the Calgary Stampede performing in the Grandstand Show incorporating water in the show

The Young Canadians of the Calgary Stampede performing in the 2016 Grandstand Show incorporating water in the show

5. The Stampede is a great place to see, meet and host people and that includes politicians from all levels of Government. His Worship Mayor Nenshi rode in the Parade and then to his credit attended every community event in the city, or so it seemed. Premier Notley also rode in the Parade and she and many of her cabinet and MLAs attended many Stampede events on Stampede Park. We even had Justin Trudeau and his daughter Ella-Grace on Stampede Park for a few hours on Friday, July 15 (though as you can see from the attached below, even our Prime Minister was not spared the rain). PM visit 6. Beautiful Enmax Park and the new home of Indian Village was a hit with our guests and one can only imagine how popular that area of Stampede Park will become in future years with better weather. Photo Credit: Bill Marsh / Calgary Stampede 7. The main Midway attractions (Dog Bowl, Peking Acrobats and Bell Adrenaline Ranch) all received deservedly rave reviews. The Agriculture programming was also outstanding and saw big crowds for Cowboy Up, Stock Dogs, Heavy Horse Pull, Steer Classic and all the exhibits in Agrium Western Event Centre, such as the Cattle Trail and many others.

The Canine Stars at the Dog Bowl

The Canine Stars performed incredible tricks at the Dog Bowl

Heavy Horse Show in the Scotiabank Saddledome

Big crowds came out to watch the Heavy Horse Show in the Scotiabank Saddledome

8. By far the most enjoyable moments for me throughout the ten days was hand out the President’s Certificate of Appreciation to surprised long term Stampede volunteers all over Stampede Park. Such a privilege to honour so many deserving people who have given so much to Stampede and to their respective committees. Many thanks to Jennifer Jenson and Shane Ellis for taking care of all the logistics and making this work with my crazy busy Stampede schedule.

One of the recipients of the awards - Jill Cross.

One of the recipients of the awards – Jill Cross.

Thanks to all of you for what you do for Stampede. Hope all the employees and volunteers of the Calgary Stampede have a great and relaxing (and warm and dry) rest of the summer. You all deserve that. Bill

10 things to see and do at Stampede 2016

Axe throwing, deep fried tequila shots, a 45-foot tall spinning ride, an international pavilion, a fire-lit tight-rope walker and a beautiful, new, 16-acre park are just a few of the new offerings to check out this Stampede. What’s your Stampede thing?

1. Ride the Stampede’s new ride

A new ride means a new opportunity for challenging yourself and your friends; Spin Out is a 45-foot tall rotating claw that spins you in every way imaginable – including spinning while you’re hanging upside down! For information on our other rides and ride packages, check out: http://www.calgarystampede.com/stampede/attractions/midway

Spin Out

Spin Out

 

2. Watch rescue dogs perform jaw-dropping tricks at the Dog Bowl

These rescue dogs and dogs adopted from shelters, of multiple sizes and breeds, prove that you can do anything you set your mind to, and overcome any obstacles in your way; watch as these dogs defy gravity through freestyle Frisbee disc, flyball racing and high jumping agility demonstrations. Be sure to stay until the end of the show for the exhilarating dock diving act. Canine Stars will motivate you to go home and train your pooch a new trick or two.

The Dog Bowl will feature six shows daily with room for more than 2,000 dog lovers per show. Daily shows are at 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 5 p.m., 6:30 p.m., and 8 p.m. In addition, on Suncor Family Day and BMO Kids’ Day, the first show will be at 10:30 a.m. Sneak-A-Peek on Thursday, July 7 will feature two shows at 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Canine Stars

Canine Stars

 

3. Relax by the river in Indian Village’s new home in the brand new ENMAX Park

Stampede Park’s newest green space, a beautiful inner city public park and gathering space, is the new home to Indian Village presented by Penn West. Located by the MacDonald Entry, and across the bridge from Kids’ Midway, you can experience a number of activities at Indian Village including daily dance demonstrations and  tipi raising competitions, cooking demonstrations over a an open fire, and traditional arts and crafts created by Treaty 7 artisans. Don’t forget that the Bannok Booth has also moved with Indian Village to ENMAX Park so be sure to grab some doughy goodness and relax and enjoy it on the lush green grass.

Indian Village’s first event, the Opening Ceremonies and Camp Moving Ceremony on Friday, July 8, the first day of the 2016 Calgary Stampede.

Indian Village has moved to beautiful ENMAX Park!

Indian Village has moved to beautiful ENMAX Park!

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Calgary Stampede’s new bridge wins Award of Merit for innovative design

A new bridge that spans the Elbow River, from main Stampede Park to the Stampede’s new ENMAX Park, was recognized by the Consulting Engineers of Alberta (CEA) for its thoughtful design that accommodates western lifestyle and flood resistance. The bridge was completed in June 2015, just in time for Stampede, to replace the old “blue bridge” that was lost during the flood of 2013.

Members of the bridge construction team accepting the CEA’s Award of Merit

Members of the bridge construction team accepting the CEA’s Award of Merit

I spoke with Mark Bowen of Read Jones Chistoffersen Ltd. who accepted the award on behalf of the team and he told me about the planning and construction of the new bridge, and how the design accommodates all of the bridge’s different users.

The bridge connects Stampede Park’s ENMAX Park with the main land. Photo by Roy Ooms.

The bridge connects Stampede Park’s ENMAX Park with the main land. Photo by Roy Ooms.

Protecting the river while protecting Stampede Park from flooding

Based on its location across the Elbow River’s floodway, the new bridge was to be as flood-proof as possible. “Normal practice in bridge design is to lift the bridge deck above the flood level to minimize obstructions in the river. This project presented unique challenges in the mitigation of flood flows and the design of the deck to withstand the applied loads from flood conditions,” Bowen explained. Continue reading

Introducing Jeff de Boer

I know that all you culture cravers and urban art aficionados are eagerly awaiting the opening of ENMAX Park in July 2016—since we announced that local artist, Jeff de Boer was selected to create a new sculpture to grace the MacDonald Bridge entrance earlier this year, the community has been abuzz with excitement!

Photo credit: Jeff de Boer website

Photo credit: Jeff de Boer website

I got the opportunity to tour de Boer’s studio and learn more about his work, as well as what inspires him to create.

de Boer is a multimedia artist, best-known for his whimsical metal sculptures—you may have seen his work at the Calgary International Airport (Tin Toy) or Cyclone, at the Glenbow Museum. He’s also received a Board of Governors Award of Excellence for his work instructing at the Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD). An ACAD graduate, who majored in jewelry design, de Boer now works with various mediums to create pieces that surprise, delight and make memories. Continue reading