Changing Faces of Agriculture

It was great to be a part of the Changing Faces of Ag Event at the Western Fair District hosted by the London Chamber of Commerce, where over 200 people gathered to show support for our local agriculture community.
Joe Dales, president of agri-food innovation at the Roundhouse Accelerator, gave the opening keynote speech highlighting the unique opportunity that Canadian Agriculture has with the vast amount of innovative farmers and technology in our area.
The 3 panelists of innovative farmers consisted of: Andrew Campbell (Fresh Air Farmer), Susan Heeman (Heeman’s) and Murray Good (Whitecrest Mushrooms), who all shared stories of innovation and disruption. Campbell emphasized the necessity for agriculture to convey to consumers that farming is not black and white. Changing the perceptions that people have of agriculture is a challenging and complicated task.
How can we help farmers tell their story? We can start by visiting local farms and sharing our experiences with others. Heeman is an advocate for living-local and agri-tourism. Local food maps are a good way to help bridge the consumer and agriculture gap. As an entrepreneur, Heeman believes people want the on-farm experience and many are willing to pay the higher price for local food.
The closing keynote speaker, Keith Merker, CEO of WeedMD described the opportunity of knowledge transfer from traditional agriculture to cannabis and vice versa. Merker said we need to concentrate on similarities and opportunities to step up into the cannabis industry with ag knowledge.
The bubble of ag is expanding and consumers are getting more curious about where their food comes from and how it is produced. But, how do we break the divide between agriculture and society? It starts by openly talking with consumers. However, influencing consumers is complicated and challenging. As our environment is changing, how do we show agriculture is valuable? Joe calls us all to support local innovative companies, farmers, and neighbours. By engaging in communication with one another, we can start to change perceptions and create new ones by learning what each other is doing.

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