Canadian Farm Writers Federation
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CFWF 2015 Agenda

Thursday, September 24: Pre-Tour Options and Welcome Reception Pre-Tour Options

The "E & C Trail" Pre-Tour of Canada's Agricultural Future

Make plans now to arrive in Edmonton on Wednesday, September 23 to take this Agricultural Tour of Discovery through Central Alberta, along the historic "Edmonton-Calgary Trail".

In cooperation with WestJet, we have arranged for CFWF 2015 participants to be able to fly into Edmonton and fly home from Calgary for the same price. Click here for more details. 

Duration: Wednesday, September 23, 8-10 p.m. - Welcome reception
               Thursday, September 24, 8:30 a.m. - 6 p.m.

This tour of discovery will include stops at the University of Alberta's Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences main building on North Campus, the research facilities at Edmonton Research Park (also known as the 'University Farm'), and at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre. In the faculty's main building, Prof. Graham Plastow will describe and show how scientists are using genetics to breed a better cow. Plastow leads Livestock Gentec, which identifies and isolates groups of genes responsible for a variety of economically important traits, such as muscle mass, fat, efficiency, yield, tenderness and cow longevity. So far, the group has generated more than 125 genetic markers for improvement of beef cattle, 12 of which have been or are in the process of being commercialized.
At the Poultry Research Centre, poultry researcher Martin Zuidhof will demonstrate his prototype precision feeding system, which could increase broiler breeder chick production by more than 10 per cent. Zuidhof's system distributes feed more equally within a flock, giving each bird the right amount of food at the right time.
At the Crop and Land Resource Unit, wheat breeder Dean Spaner will show, step by step, how he developed three new, high yielding, early maturing CWRS wheat lines that have high resistance to stripe rust. The lines are in the process of being commercialized.
In Agri-Food Discovery Place, food safety expert Lynn McMullen will demonstrate the E. coli detection device she developed in collaboration with medical and computer science researchers. The testing device can detect pathogenic E. coli while meat is still in the food processing facilities. It is more sensitive at picking up E. coli strains, faster at pinpointing results and less expensive than other tests that are currently being used.
In Edmonton's Advanced Energy Research Facility at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre, Dr. David Bressler will show the pilot plant facility that is commercializing his patented process that takes agricultural feed stocks, like animal fat and crop seed oil cost, and converts them in to 'drop-in' fuels. Unlike traditional renewable fuels, drop-in fuels are interchangeable with petroleum-based fuels. The patented process also converts the same agricultural feed stocks into solvents and diluents.
Heading down the "E-C Trail" through Alberta's Agri-Food heartland, visiting innovative Agri-Industry initiatives and the falls' harvesting along the way to Calgary and with stops planned for Leduc, Wetaskiwin, Lacombe, Red Deer, Innisfail, and the Olds College.
Cost: $85/person, plus Wednesday accommodation
Minimum of 6 guests required for this tour to go ahead

Horse Tails

Enjoy Alberta's spectacular western foothills from the saddle! We'll take you to Home Place Ranch near Priddis for a 1-hour trail ride, plus a hearty BBQ beef-on-a-bun-lunch (with salad, baked beans, dessert and bevvies). You'll never walk the same way again!
Cost: $75/person
Optional add-on: For $30, and if your bum ain't too sore, you can get back on that horse for another 1-hour ride after lunch. If you just want to sit around the fire, that's fine, too.
Minimum of 20 guests required for this tour to go ahead

Mountain Trails

Travel to Banff National Park, a World Heritage Site, for a quick, guided tour of the town, including hte hoodoos and Bow Falls. Then ride up the Sulphur Mountain Gondola for spectacular views of the town site and Bow River Valley, and lunch at the top in the Panorama Restaurant before heading to the historic Cave & Basin - the birthplace of Canada's National Park system. There will be some time to wander Banff on your own before returning to Calgary.
Cost: $165/person
Minimum of 20 guests required for this tour to go ahead

Dinosaur Bones

Travel through Alberta's rolling prairie landscape to Drumheller and spend the day in the famed Royal Tyrell Museum. Walk among one of the world's largest collections of dinosaur skeletons, explore worlds from 70 to 500 million years old, watch as fossils are prepared for research and display, and much more!
Cost: $60/person
Minimum of 15 guests required for this tour to go ahead

City Roams

Experience Calgary one step at a time! A 2-hour, comfortably paced, guided walking tour of the city's downtown where evidence of its wild west past stands right alongside its gleaming glass and steel present. You'll see amazing architecture, beautiful urban parks, the tamed banks of the Bow, tons of public art and your guide will point out some of the best dining and shopping destinations in the Heart of the New West. We'll get you to the tour's starting point, and you can meander back to the conference hotel in your own time.
Cost: $25/person

CFWF 2015 Fixing Fences: Bridging the Urban/Rural Divide officially kicks off with the welcome reception on Thursday evening.

Friday, September 25: Farm Tours

Choose from one of three fantastic Friday tours!

North Tour

CL Ranches
Established in 1887, this historic ranch now raises more than 2,000 cows at the main ranch at the edge of the city. Learn how this working ranch has managed to survive and thrive by raising animals designed with good genetics. The ranch also boasts a western town for filming movies.

Rocky Mountain Holsteins
Using genomics and good sound management and selection, Rocky Mountain Holsteins is one of the top dairy facilities in the province. Learn how genomics fits into their dairy program.

Canadian Beef Centre of Excellence
The Canadian Beef Centre of Excellence, opened earlier this year, is a globally recognized leader of Canadian beef and veal innovation, training, education and culinary expertise. We will get a brief overview of the Centre, tour the meat lab and the meat case, observe chefs in the demo theatre and enjoy a tasty lunch.

University of Calgary Veterinary School
The U of C's Faculty of Veterinary Medicine celebrates 10 years in 2015. We will focus our visit on the equine health facility, where students learn the latest techniques on pinpointing horse lameness and equine pain management.

South Tour

Bow Valley Nurseries
This unique nursery focuses on raising and producing native plants and trees for southern Alberta acreages, yards and boulevards. The  nursery has proven that native species survive best in the region.

Canadian Rocky Mountain Ranch
This bison and elk ranch raises the finest meat for the exclusive Canadian Rocky Mountain Resort lodges. The goal of the ranch is to raise their meat in the most sustainable and humane manner to give the best food experience to the consumer. Lunch at the ranch.

Chinook Honey Company/Chinook Arch Meadery
Chinook Honey Company started as a beekeeping hobby in 1995. Today, they have approximately 280 hives, and their Honey House retail store includes a live observation hive and an interpretive area. They were first in the province to make honey wine, or mead.

Hotchkiss Herbs and Produce
What began as a backyard greenhouse has grown into on of Calgary's most exclusive greenhouses growing heritage herbs, tomatoes and greens for Calgary chefs and grocery stores. With more than 100 varieties of tomatoes, it will turn everyone into a tomato lover.

East Tour

Western Irrigation District
WID today   History of irrigation in southern Alberta
Now in its 71st year of operations, the WID provides irrigation water to over 400 farms and 96,000 acres of land, and supplies municipal water to over 12,000 people in four different communities. The environment and ecology are also very important to the Western Irrigation District - they enjoy a close relationship with Ducks Unlimited Canada, and provide water to many of their projects. Their association with the Partners in Habitat Development Program has resulted in excess canal areas being planted with shrubs, trees and grasses providing crucial wildlife cover. Finally, WID reservoirs provide recreational opportunities for boating, water skiing, fishing and many other year-round activities.

Heritage Harvest
Heritage Harvest is an entity specializing in heritage grains in Alberta. Certified organic in 2008 by Global Organic Alliance, heritage harvest is a fully integrated farm working from the soil to the table. The farm sells Red Fife, Marquis and other heritage grains as whole grain flour. At the small on-site mill, the grains are ground into whole wheat flour, packaged and ready for delivery to bakeries, chefs, stores and consumers. We will enjoy a tasty lunch at the farm.

Crowfoot AG Solutions
Crowfoot AG Solutions is a progressive ag retail that was established in the fall of 2010. In mid-2014, they opened a state-of-the-art cement dome facility east of Strathmore and, at that site, they provide soil sampling services including Variable Rate Technology and customized balanced nutrient programs.


Strathmore Seed Cleaning Plant

After almost 40 years of operating within the town of Strathmore, the Strathmore Seed Cleaning Plant opened a new state-of-the-art plant east of town in early 2014, offering quality seed cleaning and custom seed treating services. The company recently signed a deal to load grain into shipping containers for a third party.

Target Airspray

Celebrating its 50th year of operations in 2015, Target Airspray was founded by Ralph Tiede. Today, his son Darren runs the crop dusting operation. Supplementing the two aircraft, the company also provides ground application services.

All Friday tours will finish up at historic Fort Calgary, ( where you can brush the dust off, have a drink and compare tour notes, before heading upstairs for dinner.

Fort Calgary is located on 40 acres of parkland at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers, and is the place where Calgary began! While you’re here, you can explore the Interpretive Centre, try on an authentic RCMP uniform or spend some time in jail! Don’t worry – we’ll make sure you’re out in time for dinner!

Saturday, September 26: Professional Development

It is often said that today’s food consumers are two or three generations removed from the farm. But if that’s true, then aren’t today’s farmers also removed from consumers? It sometimes seems as if the widening gap between producers and consumers is causing conflict and mistrust.

How do we, as agricultural communicators, help to bridge that divide without falling into the trap of the “us versus them”? How can we better navigate our way through today’s food production and consumption culture? What forces are shaping that culture? Which ones matter? How do we help farmers better understand consumers and vice versa?

The Saturday program convenes two panels with a view on either side of the rural/urban divide.

Morning panel: Lost in the Supermarket

Today’s food culture isn’t what it was a generation ago. What pressures are shaping our food system, and how do retailers (large and small) deal with the challenges of selling food in a world where consumers are looking for more choice than ever before? What do they need from producers and how do they manage supply chains while maintaining pricing structures that work for all customers, as well as their bottom line.


  • ·         Darrell Jones, President, Overwaitea Food Group
  • ·         Ray Price, co-founder, Sunterra Farms & Sunterra Market
  • ·         Mike von Massow, Associate Professor, Hospitality, Food and Tourism, University of Guelph 

Lunchtime keynote: Trish Sahlstrom, VP Purchasing & Distribution, A&W Canada.

“Away from home” spending on food is on the rise. In fact, up to 40% of consumers’ food dollar is spent in restaurants. This has an enormous impact on our production systems and supply chains. Trish talks about A&W’s journey.

Afternoon panel: Found at the Farm Gate

How do farmers adapt to the changing food landscape? Do they even have to? Despite how advanced farming is today, many farmers feel a bit embattled, misunderstood. What does the primary producer have to do to convince consumers their product is safe and nutritious? How do farmers go about understanding their customers, what can they do to help bridge the rural/urban divide?


  • ·         Terry Church, Manager, Canadian Rocky Mountain Ranch
  • ·         Rob Saik, CEO, Agri-Trend

Awards and dancing!

The conference wraps up in the usual manner with the Saturday night awards banquet and rocking out to the dulcet tones of the GMOs!

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