Congratulations to our Spring 2017 graduands who convocated yesterday. Despite playing hooky from the ceremony itself, I was really pleased to see some of the students I worked with and their families. Yan Chen’s parents had come all the way from China to see her cross the stage (above) to receive her MES based on work on Instagram in my lab. Caitlin Cunningham’s parents were visiting from St. Catharines to see her receive her MES on mapping pollination services and potential, based on work led by Peter Tyedmers that I enjoyed helping with. Finally, I got to give a hug to Mhari Lamarque, graduating MREM, who did her internship with DUC and is now working for DUC and I both. Such events are one of the more satisfying parts of being a professor.
Great to be here in Alberta and finally getting boots on the ground at some Canadian farms using Holistic Management or its variants. Tuesday we met farmers Steve and Amber Kenyon at Greener Pastures near Busby, at their custom grazing operation, as well as their farming friends from Athabasca, Rusty and Agnes. Steve calls what he does ‘sustainable grazing’ and combines ideas from a range of thinkers including Allan Savory, as well as running his own training. Later that day we met former HM trainer Noel McNaughton, and the next day one of his star students, Don Ruzicka at Sunrise Farms, over near Wainwright. The weather is apocalyptic, but there is nothing like getting into the field, talking to people and looking at landscape to help you shape research so it really matters.
Announcing the third version of our farm extension website, BioLOG (Biodiversity Landowners’ Guide), a reboot funded by the ECCC SARPAL funding to the NSFA for the new Wood Turtle Strides (WTS) program. Nova Scotia DNR originally funded this project to supplement their Agricultural Biodiversity Conservation program after our evaluation of it. Thanks to WTS program manager Simon Greenland-Smith for shepherding the process.
Happy to have Sarbpreet Singh, MREM candidate 2017, joining the sustainable grazing project for the summer as a research associate. Sarbpreet is from Punjab, India, and has a BSc Agriculture as well as a thesis-based MSc in Plant Pathology. He worked for a few years after his MSc in farmer extension for the local Department of Agriculture. He won me over in the interview by describing farmers as scientists, and I’m looking forward to exploring that more with him over the summer.
Carlisle and I are happy to finally release her third report for my sustainable grazing project, which is based on research she undertook in winter 2016, The View from the Farm Sector: Discourse in Producer Organizations around Climate, Science and Agricultural Policy, 2010-2015. We were interested in looking for the farmer’s voice in Canadian discourses around grazing and climate change. We decided in the end to do so via producer organizations who give voice to widely distributed individual producers. This report describes the discourse by farming organizations around climate, and resulting hardships, as they are expressed to a range of audiences, across different scales (Canada and Alberta) and commodity groups. We collected almost a hundred documents that represented the climate-related public and policy engagement of Canadian and Albertan livestock producer organizations from 2010 to 2015. We did not seek to track any trajectory over that time, because of small and/or uneven numbers of documents in any given year, but rather use those documents to take a snapshot of discourse. Interesting patterns arose around which organization types are talking about climate versus weather, and to whom, and what sorts of interventions they thought might help the farming sector.