Grey County’s annual exploration of innovation in agriculture returns November 1 with Ag 4.0.3. This year’s conference, which is moving from Meaford to Hanover, focuses on agri-food innovation and sustainability as we look to feed the world in a changing global environment.
“Our theme is ‘World Food 2050: Where do we go from here?’ and we’ll be exploring agri-food with an eye to the future,” explains Philly Markowitz, economic development officer with Grey County. “How do local agri-food producers prioritize decisions in a complex changing world? What are the trends we need to watch locally and globally? How can agri-food producers make more from less in a sustainable manner? These are just some of the questions we’ll address at the conference and on the innovation tour.”
The conference runs from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Hanover Civic Theatre on November 1. Tickets are $50 which includes refreshments, a bus tour and a special lunch prepared by celebrity chef Shahir Massoud and sponsored by Exceldor. A discounted rate of $30 is being offered to high school and post-secondary students. Tickets will be available until October 31 through Eventbrite at https://ag-4-0-3.eventbrite.ca.
A full morning of speakers and panels is planned. The event will begin with a keynote address by Dr. Robin White, a published researcher and assistant professor of Animal Sciences at Virginia Tech University. Dr. White has extensive experience with sustainable beef production that considers human and animal nutrition, climate change and environmental consequences, social justice, animal welfare, and the impacts of emerging ag-tech.
Other topics in the morning include applying Lean Principles in agri-food; a panel with three local innovators from Yes Crickets, The Fraumagerie and Ripple Farms; a resource recovery success story from Lystek International; and, Grey County updates on topics like the climate change action plan, economic development and the Sydenham Campus.
In the afternoon attendees will hop on a tour bus. The first stop is Cedar Crest Trout Farms which produces more than 6 million rainbow trout fingerlings each year. This fall they are entering into a partnership with Ripple Farms aquaponics who are building a state-of-the-art cannabis production facility on the site. The second tour stop is The Launch Pad to hear about youth programming from Executive Director Emily Morrison and to watch a life food demo by Chef Shahir Massoud – just like on TV. The final stop of the day is at MacLean’s Ales for a tour of the craft brewery.
“We have a full day planned for guests, but we’re also leaving time between sessions for networking and asking questions. It’s one of the most valuable parts of the day,” explains Markowitz.
Agriculture and food play a big part in the regional economy and the Ag 4.0 conference is targeted at a wide audience.
“Grey County is pleased to offer an event that brings farmers and food producers, the economic development community, tech innovators, municipal leaders, investors, students, teachers and the general public together under one roof,” says Grey County Warden Selwyn Hicks. “It’s through these cross-sector interactions that innovation happens, and great ideas are born.”
Grey County has been hosting the annual Ag 4.0 conference since 2016. The conference focuses on innovation and the convergence of agriculture and digital technology. Grey County is seen as leader on this front, with Ag 4.0 being highlighted when the county was named one of the Top 7 Intelligent Communities in 2017 by the Intelligent Communities Forum.
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