AAC Annual Summer Meeting

Board and staff gather for stakeholder networking event and project tours 

June 29, 2022 - After a two-year hiatus, the Agricultural Adaptation Council (AAC) board and staff were excited to gather in-person with stakeholders from across the agriculture and agri-food industry and visit with project applicants during our annual summer meeting.

The annual networking event, held on June 8 at the GrandWay Event Centre in Elora, was an opportunity for AAC members and partners to engage with board and staff, interact with industry peers and learn more about AAC projects and initiatives. Board Chair, Doug Alexander, welcomed participants before handing the podium to Executive Director, Melanie DiReto. Melanie provided an overview of AAC’s strategic direction and priorities for the coming year, as the organization continues to position itself for growth and building on strong programming, communications, and stakeholder outreach strategies. She also took a moment to introduce the full AAC board and staff and acknowledged their dedication to AACs mission and work. 

The evening highlighted the successes from AAC delivered funding programs. The Greenhouse Competitiveness and Innovation Initiative (GCII), the Livestock Veterinary Innovation Initiative, and the Ontario Agri-Careers Support Initiative are the programs AAC is delivering on behalf of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. The Ontario Regional Priorities Partnership Program (ON-RP3) is a collaborative initiative funded by AAC, Ontario Genomics and the Government of Canada through Genome Canada. 

The AAC updates were followed by special presentations featuring two innovative projects. The first presenter was Dr. Praveen K. Saxena from the Gosling Research Institute for Plant Preservation at the University of Guelph. Dr. Saxena shared some of the key findings in his team’s work to introduce cold tolerance into Ontario-grown hazelnut trees. Through this ON-RP3 research, with Ferrero Canada, they are finding solutions for hazelnut growers that will provide diverse hazelnut genotypes to mitigate the impacts of climate fluctuations on field grown trees help boost commercial hazelnut production in Canada.

The second presentation featured Rose Séguin from Sollum Technologies. Rose shared some of the encouraging results yielded by a project that is seeking to expand greenhouse pepper production to 12 months of the year using a Smart LED grow lights system. Sollum is the innovative technology provider in this GCII project led by Allegro Acres.

The following day, genomics was front and centre when the AAC board and staff took part in tours featuring applicants from the ON-RP3 Initiative. The first tour stop was the Ontario Dairy Research Centre and the Ontario Beef Research Centre in Elora. Dr. Christine Baes from the University of Guelph joined the tour to answer questions about her genomics research. She is leading a project with Semex Alliance focussed on precision fertility and resiliency phenotyping in dairy cattle.

This final tour stop included a tour of the Elora Brewing Company and a presentation by Richard Preiss, Co-founder and Co-Owner of Escarpment Laboratories. Richard is working with the University of Guelph to determine the genetic composition of 40 commonly used and novel beer yeast strains to produce certain flavour compounds for craft brewers for their brewing strategies.

The AAC is appreciative of the enthusiasm of project participants and the interest from the wider stakeholder community and is looking forward to an equally engaging program next June.