July 15, 2010 - We awoke to a foggy morning on the final day of the legendary AALP Class 13 study tour. The mood on the bus was happy as we looked forward to being almost home to reconnect with family and friends. But you could tell there was a hint of sadness in the back of everyone’s mind with the realization that the adventure was coming to the end.
Travelling through the rolling hills of Western New York State we reached our final stop before the international border, CY Farms and Provitello Farms. CY Farms was the most diversified single operation we have visited in our travels. Owner Craig Yunker is a real proponent of leadership in the community and leadership training with his staff and by being a volunteer. I think we were all taken aback learning from owner Craig Yunker all the synergies between their many businesses that include: cash cropping; vegetable production; turf; and a replacement heifer operation. The farm grows approximately 5200 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa, onions, fresh and storage cabbage, processing beans and processing peas. They have a great advantage with the farm being in close proximity to the Elba muck (7000 acres of muck soil) for their onion production; however, this has also created new challenges with nutrient management for the heifer and veal operations.
Provitello Farms is a veal farm located at the same location with a Canadian tie. Provitello is owned by Grober’s of Cambridge. This operation was started when the BSE crisis in 2003 closed down US market opportunities when the closed border stopped the Canadian veal trade. Provitello is the only veal operation in the US to use an automatic milk feeding system. It has also established a marketing advantage by raising veal using sound animal husbandry and traceability enabling them to market to Whole Foods. Both Provitello Farms and the CY Farms replacement heifer operation have benefited in their close proximity, leading to the adoption of new technology and greater efficiencies. CY Farms also has a Canadian connection by doing research trials with University of Guelph. They are always looking for areas of improvement and participating jointly in trials that will benefit their operation.
Craig’s son Christian wrapped up the tour by taking the group on a guided bus tour of the surrounding area. Christian is a current participant in the LEAD NY program and we are all looking forward to getting to know him and the other LEAD NY folks this coming October when the two groups meet in Ottawa.
With a quick and hassle free trip from there back to Guelph, all too soon we were all saying our goodbyes to our friends after 11 excellent days on the legendary AALP North American Study Tour. There is plenty for the group to reflect upon after this whirlwind tour. We hope that everyone has enjoyed reading these blogs over the last 11 days as much as we have enjoyed experiencing them!
Andrew Chisholm, Arlie McFaul, John Borland – AALP Class 13