For grain producers looking to get answers to their specialized questions, an initiative by Sask. Wheat has opened the door to one-on-one discussions with leading industry experts in an informal setting.
Coffee Shop Talks is planned as a face-to-face discussion, and farmers can receive immediate feedback.
According to Sask. Wheat communication and events coordinator Montana Getty, the number one benefit of attending the talk is the ability to address your specific concerns.
Moose Jaw will be hosting the event on November 1st at the Sportsman Centre in Moose Jaw beginning at 8:30 a.m. Advanced registration is preferred so event organizers can ensure a steady supply of coffee. To register, visit SaskWheat.ca/coffee-shop-talks. The Sportsman Centre in Moose Jaw is located at 276 Home Street East.
“It’s targeted to the issues that you have on your farm, and you have the opportunity to talk about every single issue that you have all in one place,” she said.
To top it off, it’s completely free and coffee will be provided to all guests.
“It’s informal, you get a 15-minute sit down session with an industry expert, and they give you their spiel and then they change tables and give (a talk) to another table,” Getty explained.
The idea for the Coffee Shop Talks came after observing how most learning and interaction at events came during breaks, when individuals were able to mingle informally.
“When we go to events, a lot of the learning happens in that networking session over lunch or at coffee break. That’s what we want to emulate,” said Carmen Prang, an agronomy extension specialist with Sask. Wheat.
“I was just trying to find another way that farmers can learn. Everyone does the presentation type format, and we have events that do that as well. We were wondering what other kind of events people can learn at,” Prang explained.
The format is based on network learning and considers how typical presentations are conducted.
“It’s a lot harder to have a conversation with an industry expert after watching them do a full panel, and then you’re like ‘oh, well, that’s kind of intimidating — do I go up and talk to them after?’,” Getty said. The event aims to facilitate networking with this in mind.
For grain producers, it can be a difficult and lengthy process to get answers from specialists. This is one issue that Sask. Wheat is looking to address.
“It’s very difficult to get in contact with (industry experts) on your own… and it’s very rare to see them face-to-face and have a full conversation with them, let alone have that many industry experts in the same room to have that many conversations with at once,” Getty said.
The upcoming talk will be led by local grain producers voicing their concerns, and experts will be on hand to provide answers.
“When we talked to the Moose Jaw and Cupar (Sask.) agronomists about what issues they’ve heard of this year, we learned that insects were a big issue for wheat (crops),” said Prang, noting that insects like grasshoppers and wheat midges are among the leading pests.
“We’ve brought in Tyler Wist, a field crop entomologist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), and he’s a popular speaker in that area,” Prang confirmed.
Experts will also discuss new wheat varieties, and seed representatives will attend from such companies as SeCan and Canterra Seeds. Richard Cuthbert from AAFC in Swift Current will also help address the topic.
“Obviously weeds are always an issue, things like… wild oats, so we brought in Shaun Sharpe, Ph.D. from AAFC in Saskatoon,” Prang added.
Coffee Shop Talks organizers do their research to ensure the right specialists are available.
“When we reach out to the areas that we want to host, we ask them what specific issues they’ve had in that area over the crop season, and then we can bring in specific industry experts for those issues,” Prang explained.
There have been two earlier events, one in Rosthern and one in Gravelbourg back in March.
“Between the two of them, we’ve had around 80 people come to the events in total which was awesome,” said Getty. She said the feedback has been fantastic, and the only complaint was that the event wasn’t long enough.
In response to this feedback, the talks have now been extended by one hour.
The Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission (Sask. Wheat) is a producer-led organization established with the aim of growing the wheat industry in the province.
Sask. Wheat operates with the vision of maintaining wheat as a highly profitable and sustainable crop for farmers, and this is attained by leading the way to help identify and support research, market development, and advocacy projects for Saskatchewan’s farmers.
Anyone can attend the Coffee Shop Talks, but local grain producers will see the greatest benefit.
To register, visit SaskWheat.ca/coffee-shop-talks.
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