Ontario Agriculture

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AALP Class 14 North American Study Tour - July 12, 2012

We were off to a comfortable start this morning, with Dave the bus driver ready to roll at 8:30 headed for the Wye research station. Once there we met Dr. Russell Brinsfield and Ken Staver who briefed us on the watershed issues surrounding the Chesapeake estuary, the body of fresh water with the largest land to water contact in North America. We discussed some of the intricacies and challenges encountered in monitoring phosphoric runoff and educating both those who influenced and those were influenced by this growing concern. As Canadians many of us came away from this discussion comforted by the policies and legislation that we already have in place to better address similar watershed issues on our side of the border. On our way to visiting a pilot project Wye research station was working on,which involved the feasibility of utilizing switch grass as a heating fuel source, we stopped by a few corn fields which were showing severe signs of drought stress from the hot dry weather that seems to be a common theme for most of North America this summer.

In the afternoon we visit St. Brigid's Dairy Farm.  Bob Fry and Judy Gifford provided an interesting power point about their 55 acre postage stamp size farm. This dairy operation is a grazed herd that uses a seasonal calving method. By doing this they are able to keep feed costs to 39% of their total expenses.  Besides the dairy 27% of their income was niche marketing of baby veal and market jersey beef. We were shocked that they were able to sell 4 month old jersey suckling calves for $400.  They were also able to use some of their cull cows as surrogate mothers for these calves.  Their market for these calves are restaurant based.  The farm contracts with Land O Lakes cooperative and a local cheese factory.  Bob and Judy are community minded and take time to educate youth in the community about agriculture by having tours and school visits and they have also hosted Farm to Fork charity dinners on the farm for the last five years. 

Judy arranged for us to go into the nearby town to "Scoop De Ville" for a delicious ice cream break.  Some of the class took a few minutes to peruse the antique shops across the street. 

On the way back to our hotel we made a stop for supper at the "Fish Whistle" a restaurant right on Chesapeake Bay for a taste of local seafood cuisine.

Kim McCaw, Marian Sterk, Wes Wiens - Class 14

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