Innovative Ag Tour
Innovative Ag Tour is hosted by a different Quebec 4-H club in March each year and open to members aged 13 – 25 years. Younger members from the host club may also attend. Members travel together by bus to visit various farms and businesses in the region of the host club so that they may learn innovative agricultural practices, feeding techniques, business practices, architectural possibilities and more. Travel time between enterprises provides the youth with the opportunity to form long lasting social connections with others from across the province. A Saturday evening banquet includes activities such as curling, bowling or square dancing and parents of the host club members join in the celebration. Youth members of the host club practice their leadership, organizational and communication skills by contacting farms to coordinate the schedule of visits as well as arranging meal and entertainment plans for the banquet.
2016: Hosted by the Howick 4-H Club
Saturday through Sunday members and host farmers alike braved the cold to share knowledge and experiences. These interactions provide 4- H’ers with the chance to talk to producers directly and gain information about:
- How innovating with already owned or unconventional buildings and equipment can cut costs to the farm
- The benefits of breeding to avoid births happening in extreme weather months
- New or innovative technology and managing priorities
- Marketing, building a clientele and providing additional services to stay current
- Staying determined when you have a dream and learning to adapt businesses to suit personal goals and needs
Farm Highlights 2016:
Les Serres Lefort is an environmentally friendly horticulture facility with over 300 greenhouses where a number of vegetables and transplants are cultivated. Members were amazed as they were led from expansive room to room, where they saw hydroponic lettuce and cucumbers grown and readied for market. They also saw the inner workings of the massive furnace and heating system and heard about the company’s plans for growth.
Ferme Louis Bourdeau at this tie-stall robot dairy dairy farm, the breeding goal is fast milkers with good teat placement. Louis Bourdeau shared information about contemporary dairy machinery. Cows were petted while feeding and milking machines were marvelled over.
Willy Haeck et Fils a tour guide took members through some of the company’s 100 greenhouses filled with ornamental plants sold nationally and internationally. Founded in 1960, they were one of the first in the area to specialize in ornamental horticulture. Today Willy Haech et Fils occupies 400,000 square feet. Energy conservation is important: screens are opened in the day to let the sun and heat in and then closed at night.
Anderson Farms the importance of biosecurity was highlighted as everyone donned plastic boots while filing into the building. The guides shared information about their new calf facilities, such as free-choice acidified milk, genetics and a ventilation system specifically designed for the building. Smart feeding machines and well-kept, clean facilities impressed the crowd, as did the many adorable calves.
Stacey Enterprises was a much anticipated stop for many maple syrup fans. The new evaporator was much admired, as was the making of maple butter, sugar, and taffy, which were in turn feasted on with great delight. Members learned about reverse osmosis, the process by which water and sap are separated and heard about goals to expand the kitchen and create more products.
Miel d’Isabeille 4-H’ers learned about the intricacies and details of bee-keeping at this small apiary which collects 3000 kg of honey per year. Honeycomb frames were examined along with the machines that are used in honey production. Flavors including pine and buckwheat were sampled, while members learned the hives are also rented out for pollination.
Tullochgorum Farms has 220 acres under organic certification, growing grain corn, soy beans, wheat, alfalfa, and two varieties of popcorn. They also raise broiler hens, about 180,000 yearly. The automated ventilation system was discussed, and questions were answered about the enormous grain cleaning system required to prepare the popcorn.
Glenisla Dairy Goat farm was a joy. 4-H’ers had their arms full of adorable baby goats. As they went from room to room, goats jumped up to get a look at them, too. The equipment used for milking goats was examined up close, and the challenges related to caring for a herd of over 250 goats and 100 kids were discussed.
Coming up Next…
Innovative Ag Tour 2017!
March 17-19th 2017
Hosted by Richmond 4-H
Registration fee: $60
Visit farms and agri-businesses in the Eastern Townships to learn about innovative technology and business management practices!
For members 13 to 25 years old, younger members from host club are allowed.
Special thanks to
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
La Financière agricole du Québec
For all the photos from the 2016 edition of the event, please visit our Facebook Page!