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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Grey County Ag 4.0.3 Conference Looks At Food Innovation

Hanover | by Claire McCormack  

Agriculture conference asks the question, "How are we going to be eating in 2050?"

The future of food will be at the forefront of an agriculture conference that asks the question, "How are we going to be eating in 2050?"

Grey County's Ag 4.0.3 conference is in its fourth year and has moved from Meaford to Hanover this year.

County Economic Development Officer Philly Markowitz says the idea is to showcase other businesses in other parts of the county.

"The theme of the conference is to explore all sorts of ideas around innovation in agriculture and food, says Markowitz, adding "How are we going to be eating here at home? How is the world going to be eating? What kind of changes do we need to make as producers? What do we need to be thinking about for the next 30 years?"

Markowitz says the Keynote speaker is Dr. Robin White, Assistant Professor of Animal Sciences at Virginia Tech University.

White is a an animal nutrition specialist who Markowitz says is an international expert' who is working to create the most effective diets for beef cattle, which is  something Markowitz points out is a huge part of the ag industry in Grey County.

Markowitz says some topics soilless farming, aquaculture, mushrooms and cattle farming.

Joel Shouldice of Yes Crickets will be on a panel with The Fraumagerie and Ripple Farms. They'll talk about lean principles in agrifood.

She says one of the topics will be aquaculture and aquaponics through using fish excrement as a source of nutrients to feed plants, "Creating systems whereby plants aren't in soil but they're still getting all the nutrients they need from what would normally be considered a waste byproduct from farmed fish," says Markowitz.

Markowitz says we have Ontario's largest fish farm in Grey County. "The folks at Cedar Crest produce 95 per cent of the fish fry (fingerlings) that are raised in Ontario."

The tour will take people to Cedar Crest Trout Farms where they are partnering with Ripple farms to build a state-of-the-art aquaponics cannabis production facility on the site.

After that, the tour goes to The Launch Pad where Executive Director Emily Morrison will talk about youth programming. Then there will be a 'life food' demo by Chef Shahir Massoud. After that, it's a tour of MacLean’s Ales craft brewery.

There will be a Mycologist (mushroom expert) to talk about all the many, many uses for mushrooms not just around food but also around medicine and some of the properties they have for example to be used for construction of packing materials and construction materials, "Mushrooms are really quite amazing and there is likely going to be a big 'uptick' in the use of mushrooms for a lot of things in the future," says Markowitz.

Resource recovery success story from Lystek International and updates from Grey County on economic development, a climate change action plan and the Sydenham Campus.

The conference is set to take place on November 1st from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Hanover Civic Theatre.

Tickets are $50 and they cover refreshments, a bus tour and lunch prepared by celebrity chef Shahir Massoud and sponsored by Exceldor.

Tickets for high school and post secondary students are $30. You can buy them online until October 31 at https://ag-4-0-3.eventbrite.ca (link is external).

Markowitz says people come from all over Grey and Bruce for the conference but also from Guelph, the GTA and Kitchener-Waterloo. She points out the conference is of interest to more than just farmers and attracts tech companies, municipal decision makers, elected officials, students, media and investors.

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