Three takeaways from Aggie Days

Author: Kim Timmer is Cleanfarms’ manager of stakeholder relations.

A few weeks ago I spent a few days at Aggie Days, an annual, volunteer-led event aimed at educating grade 3 to 6 students, along with their families, about what is happening “out on the farm” and how agriculture impacts their daily lives.

This year’s event included a booth about on-farm recycling and composting, which is the perfect fit for Cleanfarms. I got the added bonus of spending some time with Brian Gross, a long-time Canadian Association of Agri-Retailer supporter who also finds time to volunteer as an Aggie Days Committee Member.

Here is what I took from the event:

  • Volunteerism remains an integral part of agriculture.
    This event draws roughly 50,000 attendees over five days and includes an additional five days for set up and takedown. All of this is done by volunteers, which allows organizers to offer the event to Calgarians at no-charge.That same spirit is strong in Alberta’s recycling sector. When I reached out to groups like the Recycling Council of Alberta and Lethbridge’s Full Circle Plastics to lend us items for the booth, the reaction was an immediate ‘yes… here is how I can help!’ Thanks to them, we were able to equip our booth with furniture made from recycle plastic (including grain bags) and other items that helped us attract interest from attendees of all ages.
  • Recycling is top of mind… and not just in my mind.
    The questions that I got from students and parents about on-farm recycling, and recycling in general, reinforced how topical this subject really is. Anyone who has driven outside of the city has seen white grain bags and silage covers in fields. When people learned that an empty grain bag weighs about 300 lbs (which could be the equivalent of 2,000 pop bottles), they were most appreciative to learn that recycling options are available, and are being expanded, to help keep on-farm plastic out of landfills.
  • Agriculture has great stories to share and great people to tell them.
    As I walked from booth to booth, I was impressed by the in-depth conversations that were happening with both young and old. Knowledgeable, hands-on individuals were talking about safe grain handling, caring for livestock and manure management. Like almost anything in agriculture, people have questions about what goes on in fields and barns and the farming community is pleased to be part of this dialogue.

I came away from my time at Aggie Days feeling energized about my work and proud to say that I’m part of Canada’s ag community.

I know for a fact that Brian and the organizing committee breathed a sigh of relief when the large equipment and livestock were removed and the stalls and pens came down. At the same time I’m betting that they were already thinking about how to make next year’s event even better.

Kim Timmer is Cleanfarms’ manager of stakeholder relations. You’ll often find her at industry events sharing tools and resources with those on the front lines.

Cleanfarms, Canada’s leading agricultural stewardship organization, is best known for its empty container recycling program and unwanted pesticide and old livestock medication collection campaign. The organization is also involved in ag plastics recycling initiatives across the Prairies.