By Jennifer Paige
Being born and raised in what is referred to as the “Wheat City”, it is safe to say my love affair with agriculture began early. Brandon, Manitoba is a prairie town with much of its accomplishment coming on the backs of farmers. I later became further entrenched in the industry as an agriculture journalist, covering everything from the cattle grazing systems to the development of Direct Farm Manitoba, a member owned co-operative that works to support the small-scale farm sector.
After a few years of covering the agriculture industry in Manitoba I hopped the fence to Ontario and began a, shall we say, more ‘fruitful’ endeavour. Now, after a year in the position of associate editor with Fruit and Vegetable magazine, I am excited to be taking on the role of editor.
Much of my first week as editor was spent enthralled in an ever-growing pile of emails trying to educate myself on the industry’s most pressing issues. Headline after headline discussing labour shortages, rights, regulations and commentary continued to pour across my desk.
In early October, the government of Ontario outlined its plans to repeal amendments to Bill 148, which was introduced in 2017 and touches on minimum wage and various employment standards (take a look at page 6 for the details). And while this announcement comes as a relief to many across the province, it is a prime example of the consistently changing policy being delivered by various controlling bodies to farmers across the country. In my opinion, this is one of the greatest challenges when it comes to fueling farms with skilled workers. It also leads me to wonder, how are growers coping with these ever-changing policies and regulations? And, how can F&V magazine assist in navigating these stormy-HR waters?
In this issue, we explore the labour issue from the angle of technology and automation. On page 12 you will find a profile of Nexus Robotics, a Canadian-born startup whose latest advancements aim to help vegetable farmers fill the tedious role of weeding vegetable beds.
As I move forward in my new role as editor I hope to continue the conversation of farm labour and seek out ways F&V magazine can fill its pages with relevant and engaging articles that offer growers useful industry insights and practical takeaways.
Another new addition
I would also like to introduce another new face here at F&V, Amanda McCracken. Amanda is the new account manager for the magazine and joins the publication after eight years of running her own small-scale vegetable farm in Norfolk county, Ont. Check out Amanda’s details on page 25.•