Sunday, March 20, 2011

How One Farm Plans to Survive Peak Oil

by Sami Grover, Carrboro, NC, USA

When film maker Rebecca Hosking and her partner Tim Green explored the implications of peak oil for her family farm, the resulting documentary called A Farm for the Future became a surprise hit on the BBC. Now they are following up with regular blog posts as they try to explore transitioning a traditional, working non-organic British farm into an age of rising oil prices through the applied use of permaculture. Looks like they could be in for a bumpy ride:

"When we left television, most of our colleagues thought we were mad (sad to say many of them have since lost their jobs), now we're on the farm with our new ideas of ecologically sound food production, most farmers think we're mad. Generally we can live with that but we do have one (or two) small problems; an ageing father and an ageing uncle who still hold full power of veto on any changes we want to make on the farm and - putting it very mildly - they don't like change!"

Topics for the future range from mushroom growing to building hugelkultur raised beds to the idea of worm seeding. Watch this space. It should be fascinating stuff... read more stories at

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Railway Service Announcement Is Important Step Forward

OTTAWA, March 18, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Canadian fertilizer industry is encouraged by today's commitment by the federal government to improve railway service, which is an important step to ensuring that farmers and businesses get the service they are paying for.

Today, Ministers Rob Merrifield and Gerry Ritz announced that the Canadian Government will require railways to establish a process to settle commercial disagreements over the delivery of their service commitments.

This announcement adopts key elements of the railway service solution that the Canadian Fertilizer Institute (CFI) has been advocating for a number of years. CFI has been a champion of commercial solutions and has developed a Railway Customer Charter that would guarantee shippers essential rights.

"The federal government has taken an important step towards balancing the commercial relationships between railways and their freight customers," said Roger Larson, President of the Canadian Fertilizer Institute. "Fertilizer companies have commitments to their customers in Canada, the United States and around the world. Railway service cannot be allowed to continue to be the weak link in Canada's export pipeline."

CFI recognizes there have been some recent improvements. CFI looks forward to building stronger commercial partnerships with the railways so farmers can be assured that they will get the fertilizer they need in time for each growing season.

"We urge farmers, shippers, the railways, and members of all political parties to support the Government's approach. This is about the future of the Canadian economy," said Larson.

For more information on CFI's railway customer charter see

The Canadian Fertilizer Institute

The Canadian Fertilizer Institute is an industry association representing manufacturers, wholesale and retail distributors of nitrogen, phosphate, potash and sulphur fertilizers. Our mission is to be the unified voice of the Canadian fertilizer industry by promoting the responsible, sustainable and safe production, distribution and use of fertilizers. Our industry employs 12,000 Canadians and contributes $12 billion annually to Canada's economy. Our products contribute to the supply of safe, nutritious food in Canada and around the world.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

High School Students Visit Campus for Reach Ahead Days

GUELPH, Ontario March 02, 2011 - U of G’s Ontario Agricultural College (OAC)

High school students and teachers from across southwestern Ontario will visit the University of Guelph for “Reach Ahead Days” March 3 and 10.

Offered by U of G’s Ontario Agricultural College (OAC), the event will highlight the Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics and support the Ontario Ministry of Education’s specialist high skills major (SHSM) program. Under that program, Grade 11 and 12 students focus on an economic sector to prepare for post-secondary education, apprenticeship training or work.

“The Ontario Agricultural College welcomes the opportunity to support the high skills major program through the Reach Ahead Day events,” said Jonathan Schmidt, OAC associate dean (academic). “We recognize the significant role the program can play in the education of highly qualified professionals in the vital environment and agri-food sectors.”

More than 100 students will tour the U of G campus, meet business undergraduates, attend lectures and enter a business case study competition.

OAC will also hold a professional development workshop March 3 to connect Ontario high school teachers in the SHSM program with the University’s School of Environmental Sciences (SES).

Supported by Knowledge and Technology Transfer funding, the workshop will address initiatives and resources that support SHSM programs. Teachers will discuss best teaching practices with each other and with SES faculty.

“We look forward to hosting students and teachers at our Guelph campus and helping them learn about exciting research and career opportunities as well as explore a cross-section of university life,” said Schmidt.

For more information, contact OAC liaison officer Jason Tran at or 519-824-4120, Ext. 56812.