In my role with Fruit & Vegetable, I’m lucky enough to get to speak with people from across the industry and country on a regular basis. Most of these conversations are structured to gather information, naturally. And, as much as I enjoy learning about other people and what they know, I was recently reminded that sometimes the wisest words come not in the form of an answer, but in the easy exchange of words when there’s no need to perform for an audience.
The absence of live events over the past year has made these casual conversations rarer and all the more precious for it. As Top 4 Under 40 winner Susan Judd says on page 19, networking and collaboration are central to the Canadian ag community. She also notes the other key component of a good conversation – listening. A casual conversation over a cup of coffee can lead to great and unexpected things.
Our cover story is all about Saskatoon berries and their unexpected popularity. The native plant’s hardiness, unique flavour and health benefits have caused demand for the fruit and trees to jump in recent years. Popularity isn’t always a good thing, though; rising prices and commercialization of the fruit mean that a Prairie staple is less accessible for Indigenous and Prairie communities than before.
Tom Walker’s story on protective netting for apple orchards, found on page 16, shows how some innovations have unexpected benefits beyond those intended. The netting prevents hail and sun damage to the delicate fruit, but it also lowers the temperature and traps humidity. This allows for apples to be grown in a wider range of areas and reduces irrigation.
This issue also features the winners of our Top 4 Under 40 contest. The contest, run throughout February, sought to recognize the next generation of trailblazers driving the Canadian fruit and vegetable industry forward. We received some truly excellent nominations – not unexpectedly – and it was fantastic to see the passion and ambition of the under-40 folks.
Read up on what our winners – Hayden Dooney, Susan Judd, Philip Keddy and Nicholas Ploeg – have to say on page 18. They discuss advice they’d give to anyone looking to join the industry and have some great insights. And be sure to keep an eye out for our AgAnnex Talks podcast series featuring more in-depth discussions with the winners, beginning on April 26.
As usual, this is the last issue of Fruit & Vegetable you’ll receive until November. So, I’d like to take this time to wish you the best of luck in all you’ll face between now and then – whether it’s planting, weeding, advising, spraying, scouting, harvesting, selling, and everything in between. And if you’re in need of inspiration or motivation, strike up a conversation.
We’ll see you on the other side.
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