Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show set to have permanent home
WOODSTOCK, ONT. -- Ontario is finalizing a deal which would see organizers of Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show (COFS) to establish the Woodstock Research Station as the event’s permanent home.
The announcement was made as COFS kicked off its virtual event Tuesday morning.
“Through the proposed sale of the Woodstock Research Station, COFS will continue to provide farmers with the vital opportunity to learn about the latest and greatest farming practices and technology, " says Minister of Agriculture Ernie Hardeman.
Glacier FarmMedia, which runs COFS, currently leases part of the research station for the event, which showcases new technology and equipment.
"It's going to open up opportunities for exhibitor base to invest in show site," says Doug Wagner, president of COFS.
"It's a concern to invest on rented property so we are looking for big things happening over the next couple years."
As part of the purchase, Glacier plans to launch Discovery Farm Woodstock, which will be home to COFS and showcase farmer-led research.
"Going forward Glacier FarmMedia is going to expand what happens here from research standpoint, from an event standpoint," says Keith Currie, president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA).
"When we start looking at advancements in technology and genetics in crops or livestock we can now push that to further limits on this site."
There are also plans to create a sustainability and soil health centre and a student demo farm on the site.
Bob Willcox, president of Glacier FarmMedia, added in a statement, “Strategic industry and research partnerships on a range of projects will allow us to share knowledge about, and real-world solutions for, the most pressing challenges facing Ontario farmers today. Together we are enhancing the province's agriculture sector.”
Wagner got emotional when taking the podium. He has dedicated the past 27 years of his life to COFS and has been lobbying all levels of government to sell the site to them. Now it has happened.
"It's hard not to be emotional involved," says Wagner.
"It consumes your whole life. The whole team, we eat together, sleep together. The big thing is stability, and stepping stone to big things coming in the future."
Currie stays the Agri-Food industry in Ontario is 860,000 jobs and is the number one economic driver in the province. The research done will provide jobs, especially in the tech sector and will complement the academic research being done by the University of Guelph.
They will now be working directly in the field with farmers and Agri-Business.
"This also helps out our membership who is using this technology to enhance improvements on their farm through soil or genetics, " says Currie.
"It's impactful for our membership back on the farm."
Wagner says even those not in the farming industry will be impacted by this sale.
"People eat three times a day, and it all starts here with seed, some water and next thing we have growth," says Wagner.
"It's made in Ontario research food for Ontario and for rest of world to consume."
Hardeman adds this is a chance for the province to monetize an asset which wasn't bringing a return and not affect the type of work being done on the site.
"Now they own the property and can actually a build discovery centre that is built to last," says Hardeman.
"It also lets the people of the farming community of Oxford will know COFS is here to stay."
COFS has been running for 25 years, although 2020’s event is digital due to COVID-19.