A different kind of farm family

The intergenerational family farm is a common story, but what makes our family farm story unique is that we are an intercultural and international family farm as well.

This means that each year we open our home to international trainees who are looking for a farm adventure.  So far I have been a host mom to over 25 trainees and I am inspired by their brave and bold pursuit to learn what agriculture can look like in different parts of the world.  These young people come into our home as strangers and leave as family. They are “brothers” to our girls, they return to visit, and their friends and family come to meet their “Canadian family”.

I am inspired to be more adventurous and inquisitive when I see their energy for travel.  I am more reflective of our practices because trainees notice differences or ask about why we do things the way that we do.  Each year I gain a broader perspective than I had the year before, because trainees expose me to new and different ideas. However, they also solidify and reaffirm what I believe to be the core essence of agriculture.  Farmers are stewards of the land to supply food for the world.  We are bonded by that ultimate purpose.

I love that my girls get to see how ag brings people together.  We host trainees because we are rooted in ag; we love it and we want to share it, to learn, and to teach others about what ag looks like for us.

IRE: How does it work?

Originally posted April 4, 2018

Each year our farm hosts international trainees – young people looking to further their agricultural education through an apprenticeship training.  Trainees look to Canada because they can learn (or practice) English, while working on large equipment and seeing an awesome country.  We love hosting trainees because they teach us about different aspects of agriculture and help us to reflect on, and explain, our practices.  So, the question we often get is “How do you meet?”.

We learn about trainees in two ways: direct contact from a potential trainee or through International Rural Exchange (IRE).  Working with IRE involves a process that is a bit like online dating.  IRE collects initial information from hosts and trainees and uses this information to identify potential matches.  For instance, we are only introduced to trainees who want to live in a family home and work on a grain farm. Then IRE provides us with an opportunity to review a trainee profile and the trainee reviews our profile to see if we each think it will be a good match.  Once the match is made, the paperwork process begins.

Regardless of how we connect, International Rural Exchange helps us to navigate all of the paperwork to ensure that our trainees have the correct documentation, insurance and visas.  Our trainees are subject to the same regulations as other temporary foreign workers or seasonal workers coming to Canada. Working with IRE gives us the peace of mind in knowing that they are current with the latest requirements and regulations.

Working with IRE also gives us, and our trainees, connections throughout the season.  IRE facilitates trainee orientation and helps trainees connect online and in person.  Trainees get the opportunity to network with each other and can get together for a touch of home even when they are in Canada. 

If you want to learn more about the International Rural Exchange experience check out their site

If you would like to see the trainee experience at Vallotton farms check out the FarmFemmes YouTube channel.  

IRE also helps Canadian young people find agricultural placements abroad, so if you know someone who might be looking for a gap year, to experience a different type of agriculture, or a way to travel and earn money let them know about IRE.

Instagram Favs

Visually connecting consumers to the food they eat, the farmers who produce it and the multi-generational farms on which it is produced builds a connection to the nourishment we all need every day.  In a world where GMO’s, gene editing, and chemical applications make daily headlines, showing the faces of agriculture and their passion for food safety, healthy production and the next generation of landowners helps consumers to connect with the people and passion of the family-farming lifestyle.

We hope you are already following Farm Femmes on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube (@farmfemmes).

Here are a few of the other accounts we find inspirational in connecting our non-ag friends to where their food comes from:

@beavercreekfarmsltd

@nutmegzz

@amandaradke

@julietomascik

Hope you enjoy!

Lunchbox Dance Off: Where did your food come from?

Yesterday we talked about sharing where student’s lunches came from in collaboration with Ag in the Classroom.

Today we wanted to share a fun way to share with the kids in your life where their food comes from.

http://www.petersonfarmbrothers.com http://www.facebook.com/petersonfarmbros Follow us on Insta, Twitter, and Snap: @petefarmbros Watch all of our parodies: http://www.youtube.com/petersonfarmbros Featuring: How Farms Work: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfECR0XVFoy3DunTSQC-E-g MN Millennial Farmer: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCp0rRUsMDlJ1meYAQ6_37Dw Farmhand Mike: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCk1DpRFzFAxY7rBymggw8HA Big Tractor Power: https://www.youtube.com/user/bigtractorpower NY Farm Girls: https://instagram.com/nyfarmgirls?utm_source=ig_profile_share&igshid=e8c7jxrm0bwa Fresh Air Farmer: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYcqz2M9zDDO0B-Ley1itkw Farmer Derek: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvQpt5aP8DG-qXBIE7C7aSA Cody Creelman, Cow Vet: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_gI1jXVfTkzzftiYBlKdIw Onelonleyfarmer: https://www.youtube.com/user/onelonleyfarmer Welker Farms Inc: https://www.youtube.com/WelkerFarmsInc The Farming Life: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3q5NWsebP9NFfBsxJGvcEA Iowa Farming TV: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCISTsS1mIQ_FhV3LgQYG9zA CuzIFarm: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOXIxg3ht_aarXhpTphbg9g Iowa Dairy Boys: https://youtu.be/wrM7p1f6YW4 Original music: "Party Rock Anthem" by LMFAO Parody lyrics: Greg Peterson Lyrics: Farmers rock!


Hopefully it also expands your YouTube subscribe list too, with all the guest features Peterson Farm Brothers did in this video.

Ag In the Classroom

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Agriculture In the Classroom (AITC) is a national organization designed to promote all types of agriculture through hands on, interactive learning experiences. This year’s Canadian Agriculture Literacy Month (CALM) topic was excellent (How did that get in my lunchbox?)! Students really connected with the idea of finding out where their food came from before it got to the store. I was able to participate with students in grades 1 through 3 and their observations and questions were amazing!

  • Where do seeds come from?

  • Sunflowers move to follow the sun.

  • How long does it take seeds to grow?

  • Look - I have clementines in my lunch bag!

  • My Dad helps make fertilizer which helps plants to grow.

And, possibly my favorite too… Can we put our hands in the seeds again?

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If you haven’t experienced and Ag In The Classroom event, it worth checking out the opportunities - as a classroom teacher, farmer or ag-related industry representative.

Read more about one of my classroom visits at the teacher’s blog page: https://mskajatisclassroom.weebly.com/blog

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BMO Farm Family Award

The 2019 Royal Manitoba Winter Fair is finished… but the memories are still going strong!

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We would like to say a big THANK YOU to

  • Walter, our BMO host and award presenter, for showing us a great day and being such a flexible and fun host. Of course, a big thank you to BMO for sponsoring this award and for their support of agriculture.

  • Karen, the Provincial Exhibition Marketing and Communications Manager, for answering our questions and ensuring that our day ran smoothly

  • Dan and Brydan, the ACC Interactive Media Arts students who produced the jumbo-tron video for the presentation, for being such good sports about keeping us with us in the petting zoo area! They also did a really great job of capturing our family and our farm! If you missed the video, you can watch it here.

By my toil I believe that I am giving more to the world than I am taking from it, and honor that does not come to all men.
— John Nason - The Farmers Creed

BMO Farm Family Award

The BMO Farm Family Award is being presented at the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair, March 25-29, 2019. This year six farms have been chosen as recipients for the award, including Vallotton Farms Ltd. The six farms selected represent many sectors of agriculture, including fruits and vegetables, grain and beef. We are honored to share this award with such great company.

Thanks to the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair and BMO for promoting agriculture in our community and province!

You can learn more about the BMO Farm Family Award recipients at their websites (below) or by visiting the fair. Each evening the recipients will be at the TD Ag Action stage at 5:15pm to share about their farming operation and then will be presented their award during the evening program in the main arena. We would appreciate your support on Wednesday and would love to see you at the fair!

Mayfair Farms - Monday

HTA Charolais - Tuesday

Vallotton Farms - Wednesday

Froese Family Farm - Thursday

Batho Farms - Friday

Southern Manitoba Potato Co. - Saturday

Prepping 4th graders for a future in farm tech

This week we talked about how farming is changing and how tech is being used in ways that help and redefine career opportunities in agriculture.

At Farm Femmes we are really passionate about learning and teaching - and if we can teach a 4th grader how machine vision can apply on the farm, we feel confident you and your kids can learn how machine vision can help your operations. Want help getting started?

Reach us at karen@farmfemmes.com or teresa@farmfemmes.com or message us on any of our social media platforms. We’d love to add you to our announcement list for Farm Femmes camps this summer teaching machine vision and agriculture algorithms, if you’d like to hear about dates BEFORE EVERYONE ELSE get in touch and we’ll add you to our e-mail mailing list!

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Machine Vision in Ag: Applications

It doesn’t matter if you call it Artificial Intelligence (AI), algorithms or machine vision, when you are talking about the future of Agriculture, the potential application of ‘big data’ is both exciting and daunting. We have been talking about how kids can approach learning how to code a machine vision model that prepares them for the future of technology in agriculture, but we know it can be a bit ambiguous. So we picked out 3 YouTube videos we think show cool ag applications of machine vision that will help you to come up with what problems you would love to have solved with machine vision.

A simple solution to set up is security cameras that can be used in a huge variety of ways. From driveway monitoring to remote bin site monitoring to securing your yard site security cameras are a great start to machine vision. Below is a simple set up is below, and to expand after video capture a machine vision model can be trained to detect activity you want to monitor and alert you. An application there is a ton of YouTube videos on are machine vision for cameras in calving barns.

  • Barn Cam by Shelley Paulson from Minnesota

A more complex solution that shows the amazing power of machine vision when incorporated into agriculture equipment is the See and Spray technology being developed by Blue River.

The same concepts used in both of these examples are the types of technologies and skills the kids you are raising now will be using. If you’d like your kids to be equipped with these skills, or you have problems you would like them to solve, we would love to hear from you! Message us on our social platforms or send us an e-mail directly to karen@farmfemmes.com or teresa@farmfemmes.com.

Machine Vision

As Teresa and I speak at conferences, we often share about the progress being made in Machine Vision and how it applies in SO many ways in our life (today), and our life (in the future).

On Monday’s blog, we asked you to think about how you recognized the crop below as wheat. The challenge of machine vision is how to help a computer to learn to recognize what wheat is (colors, kernel size, still standing, harvested etc.).

To make these problems approachable to kids, we have leveraged the framework Amazon Web Services (AWS) has created to help beginning developers to understand machine vision. One of the sample projects is ‘hot dog’ or ‘not a hot dog’ which seems simple enough until you think of all of the variations that need to be accounted for (ketchup on it, mustard, relish, bratwurst, casing, pre-smoked, footlong, bun). Who knew a hot dog could be so complex! Then think about how that applies to agriculture, and it can be pretty overwhelming, so we started our kid-friendly project with telling crops apart.

Being able to tell crops apart are key to many different opportunities in agriculture:

  • Ariel imagery (acres planted in each crop)

  • Sorting of commodities as they are delivered (green soybeans)

  • Recognizing ‘wheat’ or ‘not wheat’ (weed detection)

  • Recognizing ‘insect’ or ‘not insect’ (and counting the number of insects detected)

We were not sure at the start of this project if a 4th grader could figure this out, with limited adult guidance, and we are happy to say he has! So, if a 4th grader can do it, the opportunities in agriculture are limitless. Interested in your kids (ages 8-15) learning how Machine Vision works in a 1 day Farm Femmes camp? Send us an e-mail at karen@farmfemmes.com or teresa@farmfemmes.com and we will add you to the pre-public camp dates e-mail list!