Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Convention: Field vegetable program

The Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Convention will be held at Brock University in St. Catharines on February 23-24, 2011.  For full details, visit the convention website.  The field vegetable program spans the two days.  We have an exciting line-up of speakers planned (see program).  Here are some highlights:

Dr. Steve Savage – Cirrus Partners

Dr. Savage has spent more than 30 years working in the agricultural industry, with universities and private industry.  He now works as an independent consultant with Cirrus Partners.  Over the past two years Steve has written more than 100 blog posts on a variety of sustainability-oriented web sites in an effort to counter the typically negative and misleading characterizations of farming and agricultural technology.

Cirrus Partners has been involved with the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops, promoted as “a system for measuring sustainable performance throughout the specialty crop supply chain”.  It is expected that Wal-Mart will incorporate the Stewardship Index into its US sustainability program.  Cirrus Partners’ involvement is ensuring that the producers’ needs are heard.  This is key when others at the table include groups such as Defenders of Wildlife, Environmental Defense Fund, and World Wildlife Fund and large buyers like Del Monte, Sodexo, SYSCO, and Wal-Mart.

Dr. Savage is also an articulate advocate for science-based assessments of crop safety and environmental sustainability.  An example of one of his blog postings in response to the “Dirty Dozen” list is Two Radically Different Views of Celery.  The blog Red, Green, and Blue focuses on “environmental politics from across the spectrum”.

Find links to more of his blog posts at Applied Mythology.

Dr. George Bird

Dr. Bird is a renowned nematologist and professor with Michigan State University.  Before coming to MSU in 1973, he was a Research Scientist with Agriculture Canada in Harrow and an Associate Professor at the University of Georgia.  In the 1990s he served as Director of the United States Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program.   Dr. Bird has expertise in the areas of soil biology, nematology, integrated pest management, sustainable development and organic agriculture.  He is a recipient of the MSU Distinguished Faculty Award and serves on the Board of Directors of the Rodale Institute.

Dr. Margaret Tuttle-McGrath

Dr. McGrath is a pathologist with Cornell University at the Long Island Horticultural Research & Extension Center.  She does research and extension on vegetable diseases, including investigating pathogen biology, developing scouting protocols and action thresholds, and evaluating control practices, including fungicides, resistant varieties, and integration of chemical and genetic control. She also examines the impact on diseases of practices to improve soil health such as annual compost amendments, reduced tillage, and clover living mulch.  NPR listeners may have heard her on Science Friday this summer, discussing late blight, downy mildew, and other vegetable diseases.

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