Friday, December 16, 2016

My year as an Alberta Pulse Director

   Ever since I started growing yellow peas 16 yrs ago I entertained the thought of getting involved in the Alberta Pulse Growers in some way. If you don't know what a pulse is here is a definition from Pulse Canada's website: Pulses are part of the legume family, but the term “pulse” refers only to the dried seed. Dried peas, edible beans, lentils and chickpeas are the most common varieties of pulses. Pulses are very high in protein and fibre, and are low in fat. Like their cousins in the legume family, pulses are nitrogen-fixing crops that improve the environmental sustainability of annual cropping systems. In Alberta Soybeans also fall under APG as well. I enjoyed growing a new crop like Peas and Soybeans with such potential to change the way we farm by adding another plant type to the rotation. I really wanted to share my experiences with other Alberta farmers and help promote this great "tool" in our fight to help with short rotations.
   I had stopped by the Alberta pulse booth in the past but felt I didn't have the time or knowledge to be involved with an Ag commission. I think many farmers feel the same way and this is what holds them back. The fact of the matter is you do have to commit a certain amount of time but it's basically your decision how much. The more you give the more you'll get out of it stands very true on any Ag group but there is no pressure. As far as not having the knowledge to contribute, if your willing to listen, discuss and share your opinion you will do well on a board. Your life experiences are some of your most useful knowledge not what you learned in school or post secondary.
   Then at the farm show in Red Deer in November 2015 I made a point of stopping by the Pulse booth because I knew Sarah Hoffman from my area had stepped down and the position of director at large was opening up. It just so happened that Allison Ammeter was helping out at the booth that day and I was able to talk to her about APG and what it's like to be on the board. After this discussion and taking some time to think about it I knew I wanted to put my name forward for election at the AGM at Farm-Tech.
   This past January in Edmonton at Farm Tech I attended the Alberta Pulse AGM and got in front of a crowd of about 250 fellow pulse growers and explained to them why I wanted to be a director. I told my story of growing peas and also talked about growing soybeans for the first time. I was very nervous having never spoke in front of that many people before so it was a bit of a blur. I was happy to find out afterwards that I had been elected on as a director and was really looking forward to the year ahead.
2016 Alberta Pulse Board at Farm Tech in Edmonton
  The past year has consisted of 4 board meetings so far where representatives from all 5 pulse zones in Alberta and the APG staff get together. Also I volunteered for the Research committee as well as the Extension committee. These are things I had a real interest in and have been able to be in some very informative meetings and I am starting to feel more confident in contributing to discussions. Alberta Pulse uses 65-70% of Levy dollars investing in research and also leverage those dollars about 5-1. Things like Root rot and pea leaf weevil are issues we as pea producers face in Alberta and are being researched through your levy dollars. Also the other pulse crops have many new and ongoing research programs to help producers such as white mold research in Dry Beans and chocolate spot in Fabas. The directors on the board are all very hard working interesting people and I've had some great one on one conversations with many of them and have learned about pulse farming across our province.
Pulse day on the hill with Canada pulse
   Getting an opportunity to work with the staff at APG has been an eye opener as well. These men and women bring a wealth of industry and producer knowledge to the table and having the chance to learn from them about pulses has been invaluable. They do an amazing job of representing the Alberta Pulse Growers on a provincial and national stage and in helping to promote pulses. I have seen first hand how committed they are to the success of all the projects that APG has taken on in the last year. They represent us well and we are lucky to have every one of them.
   I am up for election again this January at the AGM as I only have a 1 year term as director at large. I will put my name forward again and hopefully I will stay on and again get this chance to learn and contribute. The last few months have been a great opportunity to meet many interesting people from our Ag community and I have enjoyed the chance to learn from them. All of us in agriculture have many battles ahead and these growers groups will be there working along side us to help with all the agronomic and social issues. My hope for all farmers out there is that you take the time to get involved in one of the growers groups. They do great work on our behalf and once you get an inside look you will better understand how much goes on behind the scenes to help farmers. So get involved if you have the chance, you'll be amazed at how much you can contribute and the friendships and knowledge you gain in return.

The Beauty in the Chaos

- A 10 year old boy leading his first 4-H calf around the yard - Stacking hay bales with dad - Driving the John Deere 4020 seeding for the f...